The Government has agreed to the dismissal of the director of the National Intelligence Center (CNI), Paz Esteban, as a result of the ‘Pegasus case’ and after 39 years of work in the intelligence services, sources from the center have confirmed to Europa Press.
Esteban was the main one pointed out after the report of Citizen Lab about an alleged espionage to more than 60 pro-independence politicians through the ‘Pegasus’ program. In addition, the Government revealed last week that data had also been extracted through the same program from the mobile phones of the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, and the Defense Minister, Margarita Robles.
Esteban herself appeared last week before the Reserved Expenses Commission of Congress, which is held behind closed doors, to account for the CNI’s participation in espionage on independence leaders. According to sources at the meeting, in her appearance she revealed wiretapping of 18 pro-independence leaders, including the president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonés, and she disassociated herself from the rest of the people on the list of Citizen Lab.
In all the cases of those spied on, he assured, they had the authorization of the judge of the Supreme Court attached to the CNI and in a justified manner. He even let the deputies see copies of those judicial authorizations.
The Council of Ministers has appointed the current Secretary of State for Defense, Esperanza Casteleiro, as the new director of the National Intelligence Center (CNI) after the dismissal of Paz Esteban as a result of the controversy over espionage on government and political cell phones independentists with the Pegasus program.
The new “number two” of Defense will be the current undersecretary, Amparo Valcarce, who together with Casteleiro and Paz Esteban formed the first political leadership of the Ministry led by Margarita Robles made up only of women. Casteleiro has been appointed to take charge of the secret services at the proposal of Robles, who has been in charge of accounting for the “replacement” rather than “removal” of Esteban and has replaced her by the Secretary of State until now.
Another woman from the CNI, who joined the center in 1983, the same year as Esteban, and held the position of general secretary between 2004 and 2008. The Minister of Defense has been “absolutely delighted” with Casteleiro being the one to wear at the head of the CNI to give it a boost in difficult times with a war, the one in Ukraine, a few kilometers away, cyberattacks and new hybrid threats.
And for this “you have to choose prepared and qualified people”, which does not imply a “disregard” of the previous ones but provides a plus of knowledge, Robles specified, who has avoided answering whether the change in the CNI has been motivated by the need to satisfy the government and investiture partners in the crisis opened by espionage.