POLITICAL ESPIONAGE

Civil Guard officer names those responsible in Madrid spying case

Witness tells judge he was pressured by region’s security chief Former interior commissioner “was well aware” of espionage

The ongoing judicial investigation into alleged political spying which targeted two Popular Party (PP) officials in the Madrid regional and city governments took an unexpected turn after a Civil Guard officer named the people he said had ordered the espionage paid for with public funds.

José Oreja, one of the Civil Guard officers who was hired by the regional government under then-premier Esperanza Aguirre as a security advisor and, according to investigators, took part in the surveillance of two PP officials, told a Madrid judge on Tuesday that he was ordered by security chief Sergio Gamón to spy on political rivals within the party.

Former Madrid interior commissioner Francisco Granados, who was suddenly released from his job by Aguirre last year, was well aware what was going on, Oreja said. Granados still serves in the Madrid regional parliament as a deputy for the PP.

The scandal broke three years ago when EL PAÍS first published allegations that officials in Aguirre’s government had ordered the spying against former Madrid Deputy Mayor Manuel Cobo and former justice commissioner Alfredo Prada, who were reportedly linked to a faction of the party that supports Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

The spying allegedly took place at a time when the PP was embroiled in a bitter power struggle for leadership, with Aguirre trying to drum up support to become party leader after Mariano Rajoy’s 2008 electoral defeat.

“Gamón and [Miguel] Castaño [deputy security director] ordered us to commit these barbarities,” Oreja said before a Madrid judge. After they complained, Granados said they did not have to comply with Gamón’s order but the security chief kept on pressuring them, he added.

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