Carles Puigdemont said he has been defeated by the Spanish central government and “sacrificed” by his colleagues, according to text messages revealed on the Spanish TV show the Ana Rosa Program, broadcast on the Telecinco channel.
Puigdemont sent the messages via the messaging service Signal to Toni Comín, a senator for the Catalan Republic Left (ERC) who also fled to Brussels with the sacked premier to escape charges for his involvement in last year’s unilateral declaration of independence in Catalonia.
Puigdemont has said the publication of the messages is “a violation of privacy.”
“I’m human and there are moments in which I also have my doubts. I’m also the premier and I will not bow down or retreat out of respect, appreciation and commitment for the citizens and the country. Let’s move forward!” he wrote on Twitter.
Sources close to Comín say he will file a complaint against the publication of the private conversation. Under Article 197 of the Criminal Code, a person can be jailed for up to four years for revealing secret documents.
“It's over. Our own followers have given us up,” Puigdemont confessed to Comín hours after the plenary session – set to swear in Puigdemont as the next Catalan premier – was indefinitely postponed by Catalan house speaker Roger Torrent.
According to the Ana Rosa Program, the messages were captured on Comín’s phone by a cameraman during an event in Lovaina, which Puigdemont was expected to attend. The journalist was located behind Comín and captured images of the messages as they were being sent by Puigdemont.
The sacked premier sent the messages at a moment of peak tension in the Catalan parliament as hundreds of people jumped over police blockades to protest the suspension of the investiture ceremony. The timing also closely coincides with a message Puigdemont posted on social media, calling for party unity and insisting he is the only possible candidate to lead the Catalan regional government.
In the Signal messages, the leader of the Junts per Catalunya party says that we are reliving “the last days of republican Catalonia.” “The Moncloa [the seat of the Spanish prime minister] plan has triumphed, I only hope it is true and that thanks to this everyone can leave prison because if not the historic ridicule, is historic,” said Puigdemont, in reference to the jailed Catalan ministers. Three deputies – Oriol Junqueras, Joaquim Forn and Jordi Sánchez – are currently in pre-trial detention in connection with the rebellion probe.
“I suppose you understand that it's over. Our own followers have given us up. You will be deputies (I hope and wish) but I have been sacrificed,” he wrote.
“I don’t know how much life I have left (I hope a lot!) but I will dedicate it to putting in order in these two years and protecting my reputation. These slurs, rumors, lies have hurt me a lot as I put up with them for a common cause. Now this is over and I have to dedicate my life to my own defense,” reads one of the messages.
Sources from Puigedmont’s party Junts per Catalunya have described the messages as a “private conversation” without denying their content.
The messages have renewed calls for Puigdemont to step aside as the next Catalan premier.
“What is said in private has nothing to do with the public. We all know this farce has been going on for months. Now is the time that they tell the people the truth,” said Inés Arrimadas, leader of Ciudadanos in Catalonia – the party that won the highest number of votes but lacks enough support from other parties to form a government.
Miquel Iceta from the Catalan branch of the Spanish Socialist party (PSC) said: “The messages reflect that Puigdemont has written what he thinks and is beginning to realize the reality of the situation.”
“For the first time in a long time, Puigdemont is right about what he says...All that’s left is for him and the separatists to admit this as soon as possible,” Xavier García Albiol, the Catalan leader of the Popular Party, wrote on Twitter.
ERC deputy Teresa Jordà has denied that she “sacrificed” Puigdemont as premier of the Catalan parliament but argued she wants the investiture session to be “effective” and “real” because a country is not won “with symbols.”
English version by Melissa Kitson.