Catalan separatists sue Spain’s ex-spy chief over phone hack

July 30, 2020 GMT

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Two Catalan separatist politicians filed a lawsuit Thursday against the former head of Spain’s intelligence agency and an Israeli technology company for allegedly trying to hack their cell phones.

Roger Torrent, the speaker of Catalonia’s regional parliament, and Ernest Maragall, a member of Barcelona’s town council, filed the suit at a Barcelona courthouse against former spy chief Félix Sanz Roldán and the Israeli company NSO Group.

The newspapers El País and The Guardian reported earlier this month that Torrent had been targeted by spyware that, according to its maker NSO Group, is sold only to governments and national security services.

The Spanish and British newspapers cited a separate U.S. lawsuit involving the spyware, saying it exploits an earlier vulnerability in WhatsApp and could potentially provide access to everything on a person’s cell phone. The reports provided no evidence that Torrent’s phone was hacked.

Spain’s intelligence service, known by its acronym CNI, declined to answer questions about the allegations.

Spain’s government said it was not aware that the phones might have been hacked and said that such an action would require a judge’s authorization.

Catalonia’s separatist movement is supported by around half the 7.5 million residents of the northeast Spanish region. Several of its top leaders are serving prison sentencing for their roles in an illegal secession bid in 2017.