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The illegal surveillance of Catalans should worry all Europeans

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Earlier this month, a joint investigation by El Pais and The Guardian revealed that the mobile phone of the president of the Catalan regional parliament, Roger Torrent, and those of several other pro-independence politicians have been targeted with Pegasus - a spy programme developed by an Israeli company named NSO, which can only be purchased by governments and law enforcement agencies to fight crime and "terrorism".

While the investigation did not prove the Spanish government's involvement in the apparent political espionage plot, a former NSO Group employee who spoke to Vice on condition of anonymity said Spain has been a client of the company since 2015.

The revelation caused anger among Catalan politicians and activists, but it did not surprise anyone who is familiar with the Spanish state's surveillance activities. Indeed, Madrid has long been accused of illegally spying on Catalan activists and politicians not only in the country, but throughout Europe.

Last year, on August 11, the Swiss newspaper Blick reported that Spain has been spying on Catalans living in the country and monitoring their activities - as well as the activities of the Catalan representation in the country. The news that the Spanish secret service, the CNI, has been conducting illegal surveillance activities in the country angered both Catalan and Swiss politicians.

A month earlier, documents obtained by the Spanish daily El Diario had already revealed an extensive Spanish espionage scheme targeting the Catalan government employees working in diplomatic missions in the UK, Switzerland and Germany.

After the scandal surfaced, British member of Parliament Hywel Williams told the House of Commons the Spanish government secretly surveilled the activities of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Catalonia (APPG) which he presides. During his address, members of Parliament in the background shouted "shame, shame" to protest Madrid's alleged illegal activities.

Around the same time, British press reported that Spain has also spied on the........

© Al Jazeera