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.
They were announced on Saturday following a spike in coronavirus cases in Spain, with more than 900 new cases of the virus reported on Friday. Spanish officials have also warned a second wave could be imminent as major cities have seen cases surge. Airlines including British Airways have criticised the new measures as "yet another blow" to British holidaymakers. People currently on holiday in Spain have been advised by the Department of Transport to follow the local rules, return home as normal, and check the Foreign Office's travel advice website for further information. The Foreign Office is advising against all but essential travel to mainland Spain, however the quarantine measures apply to those returning from mainland Spain, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands, such as Palma and Ibiza.
Leaders from Europe and elsewhere have largely rallied behind Spain's central government after the Catalan parliament voted in favour of splitting from Madrid and establishing an independent republic. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Friday announced the dissolution of the Catalan parliament and called for snap regional elections in a swift response to the Catalan MPs' declaration for independence. The standoff began when Catalans voted to secede from Spain in an October 1 referendum that had been declared illegal by Spanish authorities. The events in Barcelona and Madrid have gripped Spain, marking a major development in the country's worst political crisis in decades. The political uncertainty is also closely watched by the international community, and especially the European Union, as a potential Catalan independence would represent the greatest threat to the bloc's unity since Britain's decision to leave in July 2016.
Catalonia's parliament declared independence from Spain on Friday in defiance of the central government, in Madrid. The Spanish government responded by approving direct rule in the breakaway region. The vote by the upper house on Article 155 allows Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to rule Catalonia directly. Prime Minister Theresa May's office said Britain "does not and will not" recognise the Catalan regional parliament's declaration of independence, which "is based on a vote that was declared illegal by the Spanish courts." But the Scottish government, led by the pro-independence Scottish National Party, criticized Spain for refusing dialogue and said imposition of direct rule by Madrid "cannot be the solution."
BRUSSELS – Catalan leaders say they want to remain part of the European Union in the event of independence from Spain, but the path to continuing membership or rejoining the bloc is not clear. Brussels has stuck to its line that an independent Catalonia would automatically be out and have to reapply to join, but some experts say pragmatism may yet trump dogma. Would the EU recognize Catalonia? Last weekend's referendum produced a 90 percent vote for secession, but because it was held in defiance of Spain's Constitutional Court rulings that it was unlawful, from the EU's point of view it amounts to a deeply flawed mandate. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has made it clear Brussels will only respect a vote for independence if it is held in line with the Spanish Constitution.