Paz Esteban has led the Secret Service since early 2020. She will be succeeded by Esperanza Castelero, Secretary of State for Defense and a confidant of Robles. According to El País, Robles has not specifically explained why Esteban is resigning. Robles said Spanish intelligence is highly regarded internationally for its war against terrorism, but there is a need to strengthen and modernize the CNI.
Last week, it emerged that not only Catalan separatists were wiretapped, but also the mobile phones of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Robles had been hacked using Pegasus software from the Israeli company NSO. The government announced, on Tuesday, that the program was also found on the phone of the Minister of the Interior. Regarding the first two, the government said that data from SPD ministers had been stolen. There is speculation that Morocco is behind this.
After years of spying on separatists, the left-wing ERC party, which champions Catalan independence and is a mainstay of the minority government in Parliament, issued an ultimatum. If Madrid does not take measures to restore confidence, the party will not support the government’s policies.
Intelligence chief Esteban admitted before a parliamentary committee last week that CNI had tapped the phones of 18 Catalan separatists, including regional prime minister Pere Aragon. She confirmed that the judiciary had given permission to do so.
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