Spain promises legal reforms following spying allegations

MADRID (AP) — The Spanish government will tighten judicial oversight over the country’s intelligence agency, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said Thursday, weeks after the agency admitted to spying on several independence supporters in the region. of Catalonia with judicial authorization.

The country’s National Intelligence Center, or CNI, has been under fire since April, after Canadian digital rights group Citizen Lab alleged that the phones of more than 60 Catalan politicians, lawyers and activists had been hacked with controversial spyware. The CNI later admitted in a closed meeting with Spanish lawmakers that it had hacked into the cellphones of “some” of those politicians.

On Thursday, Sánchez announced plans to revise the 2002 law that establishes judicial oversight of the intelligence agency.

“It aims to strengthen the guarantees of this control, while ensuring maximum respect for the individual and political rights of people,” he told parliament.

His government would also seek to replace the current Official Secrets Law, which dates from 1968, when the country was still under the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.

“It is imperative to adapt the regulations to democratic and constitutional principles,” added Sánchez.

The scope of the spy scandal widened earlier this month after the government revealed that an “external” power had infected the mobile phones of Sánchez, the Prime Minister, and Defense Minister Margarita Robles with Pegasus spyware last year. It later emerged that the phone of Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska, head of Spain’s police and border control agencies, had also been infected with the spyware around the same time.

The law reform announcement comes weeks after the Spanish government sacked the intelligence agency’s director, Paz Esteban, in what opposition politicians have described as an effort to temper the anger of separatist parties Catalans on which the minority government led by the Socialists often relies for parliamentary elections. Support.

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