Government officials in Spain dismissed the director of the National Intelligence Centre (CNI) Paz Esteban Tuesday over involvement in the Pegasus scandal.
The Madrid government disclosed last week that the Israeli-made spyware Pegasus breached the phones of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Defense Minister Margarita Robles.
In a closed hearing, Esteban admitted that CNI had tapped the phones of 18 Catalan independence leaders with court authority.
However, the Madrid government said it had no knowledge of Pegasus surveillance.
The Citizen Lab, a digital rights group based at the University of Toronto, alleged that the Pegasus had been used to spy on Catalan regional President Pere Aragonès and more than 60 other Catalan separatists.
The Pegasus revelations in Spain have threatened the progress of the political settlement over the status of Catalonia, the country’s most divisive issue.
The use of Pegasus against Sánchez has sparked controversy surrounding the surveillance software.
The US commerce department has blacklisted Pegasus, while the committee of the European Parliament has lodged an investigation.
Meantime, the owners of Pegasus claimed that it is licensed for sale on the condition that the government uses it against terrorism and crime, but the US commerce department said it has been used to “maliciously target” government officials, activists, and others.
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