The pulse in the Government for espionage ends with the head of the CNI

  • The election of the new director alleviates anxiety in the CNIsince he knows the House perfectly, which he joined in 1983

Everything was already discussed and tied. The formal proposal for the dismissal of the director of the National Intelligence Center (CNI), Paz Esteban, and the appointment of her successor, hope casteleiro, came from the Minister of Defense, but this Tuesday he took it in hand to the Council of Ministers, so that the president himself would be included in the agenda. At the Cabinet meeting, the dismissal of Esteban, the first woman at the head of the secret services in the 20 years of life of the center, was reported, but the name of his successor, de Casteleiro, Secretary of State for Defense, was not anticipated. and person of the highest confidence of Margarita Robles, of whom she had previously been director of the Cabinet. The name was later announced to the media, although “it was always clear“which would be her, according to government sources. It was necessary to raise, and urgently, a firewalls faced with the ‘Pegasus case’, which was devouring the Executive, putting it in a mousetrap, and a way out had to be found now.

Because this Tuesday was the outcome of a sustained pulse within the Government and an attempt to settle the crisis with ERC, a fundamental partner of the bipartisan and whom Pedro Sánchez does not want to lose. A battle in which Robles gives up the head of an Esteban whom he had vehemently defended just a few days before but who in exchange manages to place a close collaborator in a highly sensitive position. And that result is in itself a message to the independence movement: the Executive takes note and assumes responsibilities for espionage, but it does not touch the piece pointed out by ERC and United We Can, to Robles, to the point that she elect Esteban’s replacement at the CNI.

Since the Government undressed and revealed that a year earlier the president and Robles had been spied on with Pegasus, Esteban was sentenced

Since on May 2, in an unscheduled and unusual press conference, the Government stripped itself naked and confessed that, through an expert analysis carried out by the National Cryptologic Center (CCN), it had detected that a year ago Pegasus infiltrated the cell phones of the president and Robles, the director of the CNI was sentenced. The Executive sold the exercise of “transparency“as irrefutable proof that he didn’t have”nothing to hide“, but the maneuver did not deactivate the pressure from the Government —rather the opposite— and unleashed tension within the Cabinet itself. Between Defense and the Ministry of the Presidency of Félix Bolaños.

Robles defended Esteban and the work of the CNI and its attached body, the CCN, while pointing to Moncloa, because she is responsible for the ministers’ terminals. And in Moncloa they argued that cybersecurity was the responsibility of intelligence. The truth is that Esteban already I was on the exit ramp, but it remained to decide when. And Sánchez was in a hurry.

The expert report of the CCN

After tempering the internal patio, everything was left to the chance of the CCN’s final report, which was presented this Tuesday and confirmed that Fernando Grande-Marlaska’s device had suffered two intrusions in June 2021 – in which they were stolen, in total , more than 6 gigas—, and that the head of Agriculture, Luis Planas, also suffered a failed attack. But these new data, which incidentally abounded in possible Moroccan authorship, they were not used by Robles to justify the fall of Esteban in the appearance after the Council of Ministers. In any moment.

The new data from the analysis of the Government’s mobile phones did not serve to explain Esteban’s fall. Robles did not do it at any time: she spoke of giving a “boost” to the CNI in a “new stage”

The minister defended that it was necessary to give a “impulse” to the CNI for a “new stage”, to “reinforce” it, to strengthen it to deal with new cyber threats. It even dressed the removal of a “substitution”, a change “of one official for another”, with similar profiles, because in fact The two joined the CNI in the same year, in 1983, and they know the House thoroughly. Now it is a matter, he assured, of “learning from mistakes” and trying to prevent such breaches from occurring again. But “there is no full security“, added Robles, hinting that there are always failures and therefore the director of intelligence cannot be held responsible.

What had happened in a week, from defending the continuity of the head of the CNI to approving her dismissal? “Nothing has happened“, Robles had to admit. In fact, she herself insisted that all the actions of the secret services have been carried out in accordance with the law, because “in this country nobody is investigated for their political ideas“, he maintained when asked about the espionage with Pegasus to the independentistas. 18 of them were watched, but with judicial authorization, as Esteban showed last Thursday in the official secrets commission of Congress.

Robles tried to pass the drink as best he could. looking confidentwithout giving details or reasons for the dismissal — “is it perhaps explained when one minister is changed for another? Or when a minister replaces his secretaries of state?”, they ask in Defense —, showing “pride” for the election of Casteleiro, a “recognition” of the work of her ministry and herself, and boasting of Sánchez’s support: “I have the full confidence of the president of the Government, with whom I have been working for many years, whom I know, admire and respect, and no one will be able to take that away from me”.

Aware Esteban and his two

She said she shared with him the passion for politics that turns to the vulnerable, the one that seeks “empathy” and “humanity”, signs that she presumes are a house brand, her own, and the reason why she is the best valued within the Executive in the surveys. The minister was even in favor of the declassification of documents, which the Government demands and Moncloa weighs, “if the judge requests it.” “Transparency maximum always […]. Citizens have the right to know, so that they know how to act in accordance with the law.” That it was Robles who explained Esteban’s departure was also a powerful message for the independence movement and for the right, because she is the most applauded minister by the conservative opposition. mess up your message that the Government has surrendered to sovereignism, because Robles is its main scourge.

In the Government they trust that the relationship with ERC will straighten out: they are “optimistic” and consider that they have done what should be done. “But with CKD you never know,” says a minister

From Defense they did not want to specify how the dismissal of Esteban had been gestated, but they did add that the minister really came out reinforced, because the already former head of the CNI was not part of his team, since when Robles came to the Government, in 2018, she was number two in the center, chosen by her predecessor, Félix Sanz Roldán. With the new director there is a “personal relationship”.

Casteleiro, 65 years old, wanted the entire replacement process to be aware from the start Paz Esteban and his number two in the CNI, Colonel Arturo Relanzon. The election of the new chief of spies, according to State Security sources, alleviates the concern with which the CNI commanding officers were experiencing the government’s management of the Pegasus scandal. That concern subsided this Monday, according to the same sources.

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Thus opens another episode in the handling of the ‘Pegasus case’. The government shows cautiously optimistic and considers that he has done “what he should do”, and now he trusts that the Government will calm down. But as one minister states, “with CKD you never know“. “It is not being easy” to redirect the relationship, admitted a minister of the Executive this Tuesday, who pointed out that it could also help to relax the commission of official secrets and the “willingness” of the Government to throw “transparency”. “The Government takes his decisions, and they are not just to please ERC, and he does what he has to do. Now it is up to them to move,” they say from the parliamentary group.

The next step will be Sánchez’s meeting with the ‘president’, Pere Aragonès, which does not yet have a date but Moncloa trusts that it will be held “soon”. The socialist leader already has a head to offer him. Stephen’s. But ERC continues to point higher, towards Robles, although Sánchez is not willing to give it up.