The dismissal of the director of the National Intelligence Center, Paz Esteban, may serve to soften relations between the government and the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC), but it has generated enormous indignation in the entity. Two sources consulted by La Vanguardia after the measure was announced agree in considering it a political sacrifice that leaves the center “naked” “only” to please the Catalan independence parties.

The dismissal is seen at the Spanish intelligence headquarters as “an error in the short, medium and long term”, an “insult” and an “outrage”. The discomfort is enormous. Esteban had a long career in the CNI behind him and enjoyed high regard among his subordinates.

The functions of the CNI are ruled by law, remember these sources, and “it never acts on its margins.” It is the government that annually sets the priorities of the CNI, these sources recall, simply referring to its statutes, accessible to anyone on its website.

The discomfort in the avenue of Padre Huidobro, where the CNI has its headquarters, is very high, but this is not going to imply any kind of snub or public response. That is, these sources say, guaranteed. A good part of its personnel is military or a member of the Civil Guard and with a “high sense of commitment and responsibility” with the institution, remarks one of these sources. Around 3,000 people work at the CNI.

As it transpired last week after Esteban’s appearance before the Official Secrets Commission of Congress, the CNI admits that it requested authorization from the corresponding judge of the Supreme Court for the espionage of 18 Catalan politicians or activists. The date was not disclosed, but everything indicates that they occurred in 2019, around the sentence of the procés and the mobilizations promoted by Tsunami Democràtic. This is an entity of hidden leadership. The National Court investigates who is behind.

What no one has yet explained is who infected or tried to infect with Pegasus software another 47 devices (mobile phones or computers) belonging to politicians, activists, or their partners, association leaders or lawyers who defended some of them in legal cases. judicial. It has also transpired that the cell phones of the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, and some ministers (Margarita Robles, Fernando Grande-Marlaska and Luis Planas) were also infected with Pegasus, and part of their content was probably copied by someone else.

All this storm is what has turned Paz Esteban into a political fuse.

The still director received on Friday, May 6, in the act of commemoration of the 20 years of the center, a unanimous recognition of her subordinates, as explained by some attendees to various media. In the act, Esteban also received “very warm” expressions of affection from some of his namesakes in other intelligence services.

The outrage raised by today’s dismissal is due in large part to the fact that the CNI defends having acted in absolute accordance with current law. Its code of conduct literally says that “every year, the Government sets the objectives to which the CNI must dedicate its efforts. To this end, the Government’s Delegate Commission for Intelligence Affairs (CDGAI) proposes the CNI’s annual objectives to the President of the Government and includes them in the Intelligence Directive. This commission is also in charge of monitoring and periodically evaluating the development of the objectives set in the Directive”, explains the website itself.

The Center must also comply with certain legal conditions: “When, in order to comply with the Intelligence Directive, the CNI must carry out activities in which the rights set forth in sections 2 and 3 of article 18 of the Constitution may be affected (inviolability of the domicile and secrecy of communications), the director Secretary of State must request the prior authorization of a control magistrate of the Supreme Court, ”he adds.