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Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy in Gürtel corruption scandal

 
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TonyGosling
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:06 am    Post subject: Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy in Gürtel corruption scandal Reply with quote

Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy implicated in corruption scandal
By Alejandro López and Alejandro de Castro
6 February 2013

Top Popular Party (PP) officials, including Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and government ministers, are embroiled in a major Spanish corruption scandal.

Evidence from the PP’s internal accounts indicates that between 1990 and 2008, leading politicians were paid regular sums of money from secret slush funds provided by construction companies and other businesses.

Thousands have taken part in demonstrations, and nightly protests are being held outside the PP’s Madrid headquarters. In just four days, 850,000 people demanded online that Rajoy should resign.

Rajoy is the official whose name appears most regularly in the accounts. The 45 entries suggest he received a total of €322,231 (US$436,000), including €25,200 ($34,000) a year from 1997 to 2008, while a minister of public administration and then deputy prime minister. He received another €33,207 for clothing.

Other figures alleged to have received payments include PP former secretaries general Ángel Acebes, Javier Arenas and Francisco Álvarez-Cascos, former economics minister and IMF managing director Rodrigo Rato and former interior minister Jaime Mayor Oreja. There are also notes of payments to “J.M.”, who could be José María Aznar, prime minister from 1996 to 2004.

Last Saturday, Rajoy denied that he received any money, but on Monday, with Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel at his side, he stated that “It is all untrue, except for some things”.

So far, the PP has claimed that the allegations are inventions by El País, a newspaper close to the opposition Socialist Workers Party (PSOE). The PP accuses El País of being unpatriotic for launching “unproved allegations” while Spain is in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the end of Francoism. Former prime minister Aznar has said he will sue the newspaper for defamation.

Even so, some PP officials, including former PP deputy José Trías Sagnier and PP Senate speaker Pío García Escudero, have admitted to receiving regular large cash payments along with their normal salaries.

The latest revelations emerged after former PP treasurer Luis Bárcenas, in charge of the party’s accounts, admitted last week in the Spanish High Court that he had repatriated €10 million from a secret Swiss bank account. He had taken advantage of a tax amnesty passed last year by his colleague, Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro, which allowed tax evaders to repatriate capital from abroad in return for just a 10 percent tax.

At one point, Bárcenas held €22 million in Switzerland before transferring the funds to other accounts after being impeached in the Gürtel money-laundering case (see “Spain: Popular Party embroiled in corruption scandal“). It was the Gürtel case that saw the downfall of top investigative judge Baltasar Garzón. He was suspended from his job for 11 years, effectively ending his career, after the Supreme Court found him guilty of illegally tapping the phones of suspects and lawyers about to move money beyond the reach of his investigations.

In total, more than €5 million of the €7.5 million listed as payments to party leaders prepared by Bárcenas may have exceeded the legal limits under the law that was in effect at the time.

The finance legislation for parties in force from 1987 to 2007, when the law changed, said that “parties may not receive, either directly or indirectly, contributions from the same person or legal entity above the amount of 10,000,000 pesetas [about €60,000] a year. Also forbidden are contributions from companies with current contracts to provide services or perform work or be a supplier to any public agency.”

The law stipulated that all donations be held in bank accounts opened specifically for donations. This means that all of the donations from Bárcenas’s secret accounts are illegal, as handwritten notes repeatedly specify that all donations were made in cash. El País noted that “at the height of the slush-fund system, Bárcenas’ box had over €900,000 in it. Records show that, once the payouts to PP leaders and other expenses had been met, any remaining money was transferred into an account for donations that the PP kept at Banco de Vitoria (later bought out by Banesto). Around €1.2 million were deposited in this account. The other €7.5 million were used to pay PP leaders and cover various operational costs.”

Among the donors who contributed millions to the PP and were listed in Bárcenas’s notes are some of the best-known construction magnates in Spain. They amassed fortunes from government contracts worth billions of euros during the construction boom in Spain from 1997 to 2007.

Also named is Pablo Crespo, who is also named in the ongoing Gürtel investigations. He is considered number two in the corruption network headed by the businessman Francisco Correa—charged with committing crimes relating to bribery, influence peddling, money laundering, tax fraud, conspiracy and forgery. Attorney General Eduardo Torres-Dulce has ordered an investigation into the links between the Gürtel and Bárcenas cases.

The PP is not the only party and government, nor the only institution that has been involved in corruption. Currently, investigations are being held into the illegal payment network used by companies to pay commissions to the ruling Convèrgencia I Unió party in Catalonia.

The monarchy has also been implicated. Inaki Urdangarin, the duke of Palma, who is married to the daughter of King Juan Carlos, is being investigated over claims he misused public funds given to a foundation he ran.

Last June, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Carlos Dívar resigned after being accused by a fellow judge of claiming business expenses for vacations—as many as 32 long weekend trips, according to investigations carried out by journalists.

Gerardo Díaz Ferrán, former head of the Spanish Confederation of Business Organisations, is currently in jail for forging a mortgage on properties and companies that were about to be repossessed by the bank. He is infamous for his declaration that Spanish workers should “work more and earn less”.

The whole post-Franco bourgeois order is falling apart. The same ruling elites who are involved in tax evasion, money laundering and other crimes are the same ones who are imposing harsh austerity measures in the name of “collective sacrifice”. Under these conditions, the corruption scandal involving vast sums paid in kickbacks is having an incendiary impact among millions whose lives consist of appalling poverty or a seemingly endless struggle to make ends meet.

With some 5 million now unemployed, nearly 26 percent, markets on Monday saw sharp falls in the benchmark indexes in Spain (by 3.8 percent) and Italy (4.5 percent), due to fears of a popular backlash rendering the continued imposition of savage cuts impossible.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/02/06/spai-f06.html

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mariano Rajoy drawn into court case as corruption woes hit party
https://www.ft.com/content/68d7b4a0-6e09-11e7-bfeb-33fe0c5b7eaa
Spanish PM is witness in fraud and bribery case centred on construction boom
Police drag off voters amid chaotic Catalan poll 2 HOURS AGO

JULY 25, 2017 by Ian Mount in Madrid
Mariano Rajoy tried to avoid the unwanted spectacle of a court appearance this week. Spain’s prime minister said it would waste public funds to require him to travel from Madrid to San Fernando de Henares, where he is set to appear as a witness in a sprawling fraud and bribery case that links local business leaders and politicians of his ruling centre-right Popular party.

The court’s response was withering: how much could it really cost given that San Fernando is just 18km from the Spanish capital?

Mr Rajoy could be forgiven for looking hard for any excuse not to attend. He is not on trial. But with worries mounting about corruption hurting the PP in opinion polls, Mr Rajoy’s appearance on Wednesday — the first time a sitting Spanish prime minister would be a witness in a court case — promises to be uncomfortable for premier and party alike.

“There’s a structural concern [in Spain] about corruption now, and it won’t go down,” says Pablo Simón, a political science professor at Madrid’s Carlos III University.

Involving 37 defendants and more than 300 witnesses, the extensive trial is an exploration of the symbiotic relationship between business and politics during Spain’s decade-long construction boom, which ended with a dramatic bursting of the property bubble in 2008.

Employment keeps growing and GDP is expanding. But support for the PP is not rising but falling . . . corruption is short circuiting the process

Known as the Gürtel case, the affair centres on a PP-linked event organiser named Francisco Correa, who liked to be called Don Vito, after a character in The Godfather.

Prosecutors accused Mr Correa of acting as a middleman, receiving millions in illegal commissions for himself and PP politicians in exchange for obtaining public contracts for builders and other businesses, some of which he controlled.

The investigation began in 2008 after a former PP councillor recorded conversations with Mr Correa and filed a complaint with Spain’s anti corruption office.

Mr Correa has already been judged in one part of the sprawling case. In February, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for rigging tourism conference contracts in Valencia. Associates known as The Moustache and The Pearl were among 10 others to be given jail sentences.

In a separate branch of the case, former PP treasurer Luis Bárcenas is accused of setting up a slush fund to top up the salaries of PP leaders. He has said he made payments to senior PP members, including Mr Rajoy.

Mr Rajoy has not been accused of wrongdoing in the Gürtel case and has flatly denied receiving payments or being involved in a kickback scheme.

“I have neither received or distributed ‘black’ money, neither in this party or anywhere else; it’s false,” Mr Rajoy said in 2013, shortly before he released 10 years of his tax returns in an attempt to prove he had not received any payments.

Prosecutors hope he can shed light on the elaborate affair, as he has served as secretary-general and then president of the PP since 2004.

He is expected to deny involvement or knowledge again on Wednesday, portraying Spain’s ruling party as the victim of unscrupulous people who took advantage of PP ties for personal gain.

While Mr Rajoy is getting credit for Spain’s improving economy — it is creating more than 650,000 jobs a year — corruption has risen up the list of voters’ concerns.

In June, almost half of voters in a survey from the CIS Research Institute named corruption as one of the country’s three biggest problems, up from 34 per cent at the beginning of the year.

“Employment keeps growing and GDP is expanding by 3-3.5 per cent. But support for the PP is not rising but falling . . . corruption is short circuiting the process. It must be a bittersweet feeling for [Mr Rajoy],” says Mr Simón.

A poll of polls produced for the El País newspaper shows the PP receiving a 29 per cent vote share, down six points from last autumn, while the Socialist party and the liberal party Ciudadanos, which has a deal to support the PP on key issues, have gained ground.

Related article
Spain: Boom to bust and back again
The economy is finally set to return to its pre-crisis level. But have the reforms come at too high a price?

Still, Mr Rajoy’s position as prime minister should be safe. The leftwing opposition is fractured, with both the PSOE and Podemos having had leadership battles, and the combined opposition would need to join with Catalan separatist parties to replace Mr Rajoy.

And while Ciudadanos has a strong anti-corruption platform, it still polls in fourth place with less than 17 per cent of the vote.

Unless any shattering revelations about Mr Rajoy emerge, Ciudadanos will probably be content to use its increased leverage with a weakened PP to achieve its goals on issues such as more paternity leave and lower taxes.

Mr Rajoy has already passed a budget in 2017 with the help of Ciudadanos and several regional parties, and Spain does not need national elections until 2020.

For now, the biggest threat for Mr Rajoy’s government and the PP remains that the trials uncover incriminating evidence, perhaps with the help of Mr Correa or Mr Bárcenas looking to cut a deal.

“Having to declare in front of judge is very negative for the PP but at the same time the political cycle doesn’t favour a broad impact,” says Antonio Barroso, eurozone analyst at Teneo Intelligence.

“In the long term, corruption is the issue that stops the PP from getting an absolute majority. But it doesn’t mean they will lose the next elections.”

_________________
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www.rethink911.org
www.patriotsquestion911.com
www.actorsandartistsfor911truth.org
www.mediafor911truth.org
www.pilotsfor911truth.org
www.mp911truth.org
www.ae911truth.org
www.rl911truth.org
www.stj911.org
www.v911t.org
www.thisweek.org.uk
www.abolishwar.org.uk
www.elementary.org.uk
www.radio4all.net/index.php/contributor/2149
http://utangente.free.fr/2003/media2003.pdf
"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung
https://37.220.108.147/members/www.bilderberg.org/phpBB2/
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bit of decent reporting from the Independent:
‘The scale of repression over Catalonia is exposing the crisis of the Spanish state’:
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/catalan-independence-referendum-se lf-determination-separatist-spain-government-unpopular-region-a7959286 .html

‘….Significantly, this legal overreach hasn’t been limited to Catalonia, and nor has the popular response to it. Judges in Madrid and Bilbao have ruled public debates on the Catalan question illegal. While both events eventually went ahead despite the court suspensions, the apparent attempt to use criminal law to suppress political expression recalls some of the darkest moments of Spain’s recent history.
The scale of state repression in Catalonia and its extension to the rest of Spain mark a significant shift in the ongoing dispute over the national question. The conflict is less and less about competing conceptions of democracy and increasingly about the defence of the basic rights like freedom of assembly, speech and the press…..’

‘….Is this a revolt with a national current? Undoubtedly. But there is something else going on, too. Wednesday’s rallies were not the highly organised, disciplined affairs that characterise the annual demonstrations of the independence movement. Their spirit owed something to the anti-establishment “indignados” movement that occupied the squares of Spain’s major cities in May 2011 and politicised a generation.
Protesters alternated between collective renditions of the Catalan national anthem, “Els Segadors” and the libertarian and anti-fascist chants of “the streets will always be ours” and “no passaran”. As night fell, the air was filled with the sound of people banging pots from their balconies in protest, even in neighbourhoods where support for independence is relatively low. Elsewhere in Spain, emergency solidarity protests were held in more than 20 cities, using the hashtag #CataluñaNoEstásSola, “Catalonia, you’re not alone”……’

Hopefully, Rajoy & Co. have bitten off a lot more than they can chew. This is NOT limited to Catalonia.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 8:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

outsider wrote:
Bit of decent reporting from the Independent:
‘The scale of repression over Catalonia is exposing the crisis of the Spanish state’:
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/catalan-independence-referendum-se lf-determination-separatist-spain-government-unpopular-region-a7959286 .html

‘….Significantly, this legal overreach hasn’t been limited to Catalonia, and nor has the popular response to it. Judges in Madrid and Bilbao have ruled public debates on the Catalan question illegal. While both events eventually went ahead despite the court suspensions, the apparent attempt to use criminal law to suppress political expression recalls some of the darkest moments of Spain’s recent history.
The scale of state repression in Catalonia and its extension to the rest of Spain mark a significant shift in the ongoing dispute over the national question. The conflict is less and less about competing conceptions of democracy and increasingly about the defence of the basic rights like freedom of assembly, speech and the press…..’

‘….Is this a revolt with a national current? Undoubtedly. But there is something else going on, too. Wednesday’s rallies were not the highly organised, disciplined affairs that characterise the annual demonstrations of the independence movement. Their spirit owed something to the anti-establishment “indignados” movement that occupied the squares of Spain’s major cities in May 2011 and politicised a generation.
Protesters alternated between collective renditions of the Catalan national anthem, “Els Segadors” and the libertarian and anti-fascist chants of “the streets will always be ours” and “no passaran”. As night fell, the air was filled with the sound of people banging pots from their balconies in protest, even in neighbourhoods where support for independence is relatively low. Elsewhere in Spain, emergency solidarity protests were held in more than 20 cities, using the hashtag #CataluñaNoEstásSola, “Catalonia, you’re not alone”……’

Hopefully, Rajoy & Co. have bitten off a lot more than they can chew. This is NOT limited to Catalonia.



I just got this up on the Independent:
'See just how obscene and brutal these Guardia Civil are:
https://mobile.twitter.com/DaniMateoAgain/status/914467943966236673
https://mobile.twitter.com/LaBaroneta/status/914519351696482305/video/ 1 '
I suggest others get on the MSM and put out some truth too on their 'comments' section, if they have one.

I earlier heard of above case from a commenter on Craig Murray's blog, who wrote:
'Some of the stories are pretty rough though. Just got an audio message with the following from a woman in Girona (my translation):
‘Laura, listen carefully to this and explain it to everyone – I was defending old people with my arms open, nothing more than that because they were hitting kids, they were hitting old people. They threw me down the stairs and threw things at me and broke the bones in my hand on purpose, one by one. Halfway down the stairs with my clothes askew they felt my breasts and laughed and they hit me…’
( https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2017/10/the-freedom-of-courage  /comment-page-1/#comments - @willyrobinson )

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'And he (the devil) said to him: To thee will I give all this power, and the glory of them; for to me they are delivered, and to whom I will, I give them'. Luke IV 5-7.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How a Dubious CIA Document Is Fueling Tensions in Catalonia
https://theintercept.com/2017/09/30/catalonia-cia-report-mossos-el-per iodico/

Zach Campbell 2017-09-30T09:10:11+00:00

TENSIONS ARE RUNNING high in Barcelona. Last month saw a terrorist attack on one of the city’s main thoroughfares, Las Ramblas, which killed a dozen people and injured more than 100. At the same time, Barcelona and the greater region of Catalonia are a day away from an independence referendum that has pitted the Catalan and Spanish governments against each other in a way unseen since the fall of Franco’s military dictatorship in the 1970s.

The central government in Madrid is bent on preventing the Oct. 1 referendum: in the last week, Spanish military police have shut down multiple websites associated with the referendum, and raided newspaper offices, TV stations and print shops in search of the ballots and ballot-boxes to be used in the vote. The Spanish interior minister has attempted to seize control of the Catalan police. Meanwhile, two ferries docked in Barcelona’s port are housing thousands of riot police that Madrid has said it plans on using to physically stop the vote. Spanish police have arrested at least a dozen members of the Catalan autonomous regional government and others involved with the independence movement, threatening charges of “sedition“ and “rebellion.“

Last month, as the referendum fervor was heating up, leading Spanish daily newspaper El Periódico published a document alleging that the CIA had warned the Catalan police about a potential attack in Barcelona. The document stated that three months before the attack, the CIA had warned the Catalan police, the Mossos d’Esquadra, of “unsubstantiated information of unknown veracity“ pointing to a summer attack in Barcelona. The document (pictured below) named Las Ramblas as a potential target.

The revelation had huge implications—if true, it would represent a case of gross negligence on the part of the Catalan police and evidence that Catalonia’s president, interior minister, and police chief had lied to the public. But El Periodico’s initial story unraveled quickly: Soon after its publication, local journalists questioned the veracity of the document. Supposedly authored by the CIA, it was plagued with spelling and formatting errors typical of Spanish speakers. Even WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange tweeted that he thought it looked fake.

The publication of the document raises many questions. If it is indeed fake, was it created by El Periódico, or did the newspaper get spun a fabrication by an outside source who was intent on undermining trust in Catalonia’s authorities? Just over one month after the attacks in Barcelona and prior to Catalonia’s impending referendum, The Intercept has delved into the strange case in an effort to shine light on the murky origins of the alleged CIA report.

The story started as a blip in the live coverage of the attack on Aug. 17, 2017. Less than one hour after a large van had rammed through crowds of people on Las Ramblas, El Periódico published an entry on its live blog stating that the “CIA warned the Mossos two months ago that Barcelona, specifically [Las Ramblas], could be the location of a terrorist attack like the attack that happened today.” At the time, dead bodies were still scattered across the street’s pedestrian center.

El Periódico wasn’t the only Spanish newspaper publishing articles trying to prove that police had been warned of a potential attack. In the days following the incident, for example, El País ran a story stating that Belgian intelligence had alerted the Mossos about one of the attackers earlier this year. But the El País report was quickly debunked. Still, the Spanish and Catalan press were eager for the police negligence story.

El Periódico published the first document on Aug. 31, which it claimed was a section of a CIA report about a potential attack in Barcelona. Days earlier, Catalonia’s president and interior minister had both made public statements saying that there had been no warning from the CIA, in response to El Periódico’s post on the day of the attack.

Josep Lluís Trapero, head of the Mossos, held a press conference to say the same, though he added one small detail—the Mossos did receive a warning in May about a potential attack in Barcelona, but it wasn’t from the CIA and it was sent to all levels of Spanish police. Trapero said that the Mossos, alongside the Spanish national police, military police and counterterrorism officials, had all determined the notice to be of “very low quality.” And either way, Trapero insisted, El Periódico’s document was false.

Still, the story was picked up all over Spain and internationally. Politicians and journalists accused Catalonia’s president, interior minister, and police chief of lying to the public about the alleged CIA warning. Each of the three officials were responsible for critical aspects of Catalan governance and all three supported the independence movement. With the Oct. 1 referendum looming, the accusations of negligence and misinformation were significant and damaging.

Enric Hernàndez, director of El Periódico, backpedaled in response to questions about the document’s veracity. In an interview with a Catalan radio station on the same day he published the purported CIA warning, Hernàndez stated that the document was authored by the CIA, but said that it was the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, not the CIA, that had sent the warning to the Catalan police.

Hernàndez added that the warning had also been sent to other Spanish police forces. When asked why he had singled out the Mossos for criticism, he avoided the question. And he bizarrely blamed email encryption for the typos and formatting errors that had appeared in the document.

The following day, Sept. 1, Hernàndez published another article about the alleged CIA warning, including what he called a complete version of the document. The document was similar to the original, with some of the typos corrected. The accompanying article no longer mentioned the CIA, and instead adopted a more generic term: “American intelligence.” Hernandez said the document had been sent from the National Counterterrorism Center to the Mossos and also to CITCO, Spanish counterterrorism police.

As the backlash continued, Hernàndez revised his story again. The published document, he said, wasn’t an original after all—the newspaper had created it based on the text of the original. Hernàndez maintained that his source had, just before publishing, requested that the original document not be published. So El Periódico mocked-up its own version.
Josep Lluis Trapero, chief of the Catalan regional police “Mossos D’Esquadra” and Interior Minister for the Catalan government Joaquim Forn, left, give a press conference in Barcelona on Aug. 31, 2017. Photo: Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images

Hernàndez stands by his reporting on the case. He said in an interview with The Intercept that the only error El Periódico made was to not initially state that the purported CIA document was an inauthentic version that the newspaper’s staff had recreated.

According to Hernàndez, he first heard about the alleged CIA notice from two sources in the Catalan government on two separate occasions in late May. (In interviews with other media, Hernàndez has said these two conversations took place in June.) The first source, he says, tipped him off to the existence of the warning, and the second, a day later, read him its contents. Both sources said the warning was from the CIA and had been sent to the Mossos raising alarm about a potential attack in Barcelona. Hernàndez says he was not physically shown the document in either meeting.

Journalists at El Periódico began investigating further, Hernàndez says, after the Catalan president, interior minister and police chief denied the existence of a CIA warning in the days following the attack. That’s when, he says, they obtained the alleged document. Hernàndez would not discuss whether or not he tried to verify the document with sources in the U.S.
“This is a debate between truth and lies.”

“We had two sources,” Hernandez explains, “so either they both deceived us in the moment, and this warning was never sent and was an invention, or [the Catalan officials] deceived the public by denying the existence of the warning.”

Hernàndez’s battle seems almost personal: “If on Aug. 20, the president of the [Catalan government] hadn’t denied the existence of the warning, we wouldn’t have looked further into it,” he says. “This is a debate between truth and lies.”

The CIA and Office of the Director of National Intelligence did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Press officers from the National Counterterrorism Center refused to speak about the case.

However, in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act, the National Counterterrorism Center did state that it had no record of any communications sent in 2017 between its office, Spanish counterterrorism police, or the Mossos.

Hernandez argues that the communication was classified, and thus there would have been no record available under FOIA. But Sally Nicholson, FOIA Chief for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the agency responsible for National Counterterrorism Center records, says that in the case of her agency, that is not how it works.

“If there had been communications but they were classified, the FOIA response would have said so,” Nicholson explains. “If you have a request for something that an agency can’t admit to doing, can’t confirm or deny, you still get that answer. You’ll get ‘we can’t confirm or deny, because just by confirming or denying it would give out a classified fact.’”

“If we had an exclusion for records, we would cite the exclusion in the response,” Nicholson adds, “in this case, there are no exclusions that are being cited.”
People stroll on Las Ramblas in Barcelona on April 23, 2017. Photo: Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Images

Las Ramblas is like Barcelona’s Times Square—one of the city’s central streets and tourist destinations. As much now as before the attack, the street’s pedestrian walkway, which leads from the city’s central square to the Mediterranean sea, is constantly packed with tourists, street vendors, restaurants and the occasional artist. Even before the attack, police flanked either side of the entrance, sporting submachine guns and military-style police vans.

After the attack, police quickly found plans for what would have been a larger, more deadly atrocity: the detonation of a rental truck full of gas canisters next to the Sagrada Familia, another one of Barcelona’s famous landmarks. That plan was foiled when the person modifying the gas canisters set them off prematurely in a house about 120 miles south of Barcelona.

For people on both sides of the Catalan independence movement, the Barcelona attack came to represent a grave example of the other sides’ failings, explains Josep Àngel Guimerà, a journalism professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Separatist press argued that there was a lack of communication between Spanish and Catalan counterterrorism police, says Guimerà. For unionists—with the help of El Periódico’s reporting—the attack came to represent the failings of the Catalan police and three top figures in the independence movement.

Guimerà notes that journalists on both sides of the movement were quick to react to the publication of the alleged CIA report. “All of the media that stand opposed to the Catalan independence movement believed Enric [Hernàndez, the director of El Periódico]. And all of those that support the movement doubted him,” says Guimerà. “There was an almost-automatic response on behalf of the media to believe the warning or not.”

Another issue is that Spanish media don’t typically fact-check their articles or investigations, says María Ramírez, a journalist with two decades of experience working for Spanish media. Ramírez is quick to add that individual journalists do often scrutinize and fact-check their own work, but it’s not a common practice.

“There is no newspaper in Spain that has processes of fact-checking like in the U.S.,“ Ramírez, now a journalism fellow at Harvard, explains. “Typically [Spanish journalists], when a source passes them a document, will publish it and that’s it. It would be much more valuable to find another source and build a narrative to explain.”

“If you just publish without checking,” she adds, “you’re not doing your job for readers.”

Beyond that lies another question: If the document is indeed false, who created it?
A police officer patrols on Las Ramblas on Aug. 18, 2017, following a terror attack in Barcelona. Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images

Journalist Carlos Enrique Bayo, head of investigations at Madrid-based news organization Público, has been working on cases like these for a year and a half. In 2016, he and a colleague, Patricia López, obtained explosive recordings of conversations that took place inside the office of Spain’s then-Minister of Interior, Jorge Fernández Díaz.

The publication of the conversations—in which Fernández Díaz and the former head of the Catalan anti-fraud office can be heard discussing a secret political police force—triggered a major investigation in the Spanish Congress. Congressional investigators verified that Fernández Díaz had, during his tenure as Spain’s interior minister, created a covert police unit tasked with obstructing corruption investigations into the conservative People’s Party, which has been in government in Spain since 2011. According to the congressional probe, the political police also worked to investigate Fernández Díaz’s opponents, among them people involved with the rising leftist-populist movement in Spain and the independence movement in Catalonia.

In both cases, congressional investigators found that Spanish police had leaked falsified documents to the press in order to discredit the then-Interior Minister’s adversaries. Bayo notes that one of those police, José Luis Olivera, now leads CITCO, the counterterrorism agency that supposedly received the purported U.S. intelligence document published by El Periódico. (CITCO did not respond to requests for comment.)

Is this a smoking gun? Bayo says no, it is not. But, he adds, it is strange that “right now, a document would appear, written in terrible English, that they say was sent by U.S. intelligence directly to the Mossos, when evidently intelligence agencies typically speak among each other.”

Josep Àngel Guimerà, the journalism professor, agrees. While it is impossible to be certain about what happened, he says he blames a politically-minded leak and journalists who don’t fact check.

“I’m sure there is a report somewhere that says generally that Las Ramblas is a target,” Guimerà remarks. But, he adds: “Out of one grain of sand, there are people here that have tried to build a mountain.”


TENSIONS ARE RUNNING high in Barcelona. Last month saw a terrorist attack on one of the city’s main thoroughfares, Las Ramblas, which killed a dozen people and injured more than 100. At the same time, Barcelona and the greater region of Catalonia are a day away from an independence referendum that has pitted the Catalan and Spanish governments against each other in a way unseen since the fall of Franco’s military dictatorship in the 1970s.

The central government in Madrid is bent on preventing the Oct. 1 referendum: in the last week, Spanish military police have shut down multiple websites associated with the referendum, and raided newspaper offices, TV stations and print shops in search of the ballots and ballot-boxes to be used in the vote. The Spanish interior minister has attempted to seize control of the Catalan police. Meanwhile, two ferries docked in Barcelona’s port are housing thousands of riot police that Madrid has said it plans on using to physically stop the vote. Spanish police have arrested at least a dozen members of the Catalan autonomous regional government and others involved with the independence movement, threatening charges of “sedition“ and “rebellion.“

Last month, as the referendum fervor was heating up, leading Spanish daily newspaper El Periódico published a document alleging that the CIA had warned the Catalan police about a potential attack in Barcelona. The document stated that three months before the attack, the CIA had warned the Catalan police, the Mossos d’Esquadra, of “unsubstantiated information of unknown veracity“ pointing to a summer attack in Barcelona. The document (pictured below) named Las Ramblas as a potential target.

The revelation had huge implications—if true, it would represent a case of gross negligence on the part of the Catalan police and evidence that Catalonia’s president, interior minister, and police chief had lied to the public. But El Periodico’s initial story unraveled quickly: Soon after its publication, local journalists questioned the veracity of the document. Supposedly authored by the CIA, it was plagued with spelling and formatting errors typical of Spanish speakers. Even WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange tweeted that he thought it looked fake.

The publication of the document raises many questions. If it is indeed fake, was it created by El Periódico, or did the newspaper get spun a fabrication by an outside source who was intent on undermining trust in Catalonia’s authorities? Just over one month after the attacks in Barcelona and prior to Catalonia’s impending referendum, The Intercept has delved into the strange case in an effort to shine light on the murky origins of the alleged CIA report.

The story started as a blip in the live coverage of the attack on Aug. 17, 2017. Less than one hour after a large van had rammed through crowds of people on Las Ramblas, El Periódico published an entry on its live blog stating that the “CIA warned the Mossos two months ago that Barcelona, specifically [Las Ramblas], could be the location of a terrorist attack like the attack that happened today.” At the time, dead bodies were still scattered across the street’s pedestrian center.

El Periódico wasn’t the only Spanish newspaper publishing articles trying to prove that police had been warned of a potential attack. In the days following the incident, for example, El País ran a story stating that Belgian intelligence had alerted the Mossos about one of the attackers earlier this year. But the El País report was quickly debunked. Still, the Spanish and Catalan press were eager for the police negligence story.

El Periódico published the first document on Aug. 31, which it claimed was a section of a CIA report about a potential attack in Barcelona. Days earlier, Catalonia’s president and interior minister had both made public statements saying that there had been no warning from the CIA, in response to El Periódico’s post on the day of the attack.

Josep Lluís Trapero, head of the Mossos, held a press conference to say the same, though he added one small detail—the Mossos did receive a warning in May about a potential attack in Barcelona, but it wasn’t from the CIA and it was sent to all levels of Spanish police. Trapero said that the Mossos, alongside the Spanish national police, military police and counterterrorism officials, had all determined the notice to be of “very low quality.” And either way, Trapero insisted, El Periódico’s document was false.

Still, the story was picked up all over Spain and internationally. Politicians and journalists accused Catalonia’s president, interior minister, and police chief of lying to the public about the alleged CIA warning. Each of the three officials were responsible for critical aspects of Catalan governance and all three supported the independence movement. With the Oct. 1 referendum looming, the accusations of negligence and misinformation were significant and damaging.

Enric Hernàndez, director of El Periódico, backpedaled in response to questions about the document’s veracity. In an interview with a Catalan radio station on the same day he published the purported CIA warning, Hernàndez stated that the document was authored by the CIA, but said that it was the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, not the CIA, that had sent the warning to the Catalan police.

Hernàndez added that the warning had also been sent to other Spanish police forces. When asked why he had singled out the Mossos for criticism, he avoided the question. And he bizarrely blamed email encryption for the typos and formatting errors that had appeared in the document.

The following day, Sept. 1, Hernàndez published another article about the alleged CIA warning, including what he called a complete version of the document. The document was similar to the original, with some of the typos corrected. The accompanying article no longer mentioned the CIA, and instead adopted a more generic term: “American intelligence.” Hernandez said the document had been sent from the National Counterterrorism Center to the Mossos and also to CITCO, Spanish counterterrorism police.

As the backlash continued, Hernàndez revised his story again. The published document, he said, wasn’t an original after all—the newspaper had created it based on the text of the original. Hernàndez maintained that his source had, just before publishing, requested that the original document not be published. So El Periódico mocked-up its own version.
Josep Lluis Trapero, chief of the Catalan regional police “Mossos D’Esquadra” and Interior Minister for the Catalan government Joaquim Forn, left, give a press conference in Barcelona on Aug. 31, 2017. Photo: Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images

Hernàndez stands by his reporting on the case. He said in an interview with The Intercept that the only error El Periódico made was to not initially state that the purported CIA document was an inauthentic version that the newspaper’s staff had recreated.

According to Hernàndez, he first heard about the alleged CIA notice from two sources in the Catalan government on two separate occasions in late May. (In interviews with other media, Hernàndez has said these two conversations took place in June.) The first source, he says, tipped him off to the existence of the warning, and the second, a day later, read him its contents. Both sources said the warning was from the CIA and had been sent to the Mossos raising alarm about a potential attack in Barcelona. Hernàndez says he was not physically shown the document in either meeting.

Journalists at El Periódico began investigating further, Hernàndez says, after the Catalan president, interior minister and police chief denied the existence of a CIA warning in the days following the attack. That’s when, he says, they obtained the alleged document. Hernàndez would not discuss whether or not he tried to verify the document with sources in the U.S.
“This is a debate between truth and lies.”

“We had two sources,” Hernandez explains, “so either they both deceived us in the moment, and this warning was never sent and was an invention, or [the Catalan officials] deceived the public by denying the existence of the warning.”

Hernàndez’s battle seems almost personal: “If on Aug. 20, the president of the [Catalan government] hadn’t denied the existence of the warning, we wouldn’t have looked further into it,” he says. “This is a debate between truth and lies.”

The CIA and Office of the Director of National Intelligence did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Press officers from the National Counterterrorism Center refused to speak about the case.

However, in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act, the National Counterterrorism Center did state that it had no record of any communications sent in 2017 between its office, Spanish counterterrorism police, or the Mossos.

Hernandez argues that the communication was classified, and thus there would have been no record available under FOIA. But Sally Nicholson, FOIA Chief for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the agency responsible for National Counterterrorism Center records, says that in the case of her agency, that is not how it works.

“If there had been communications but they were classified, the FOIA response would have said so,” Nicholson explains. “If you have a request for something that an agency can’t admit to doing, can’t confirm or deny, you still get that answer. You’ll get ‘we can’t confirm or deny, because just by confirming or denying it would give out a classified fact.’”

“If we had an exclusion for records, we would cite the exclusion in the response,” Nicholson adds, “in this case, there are no exclusions that are being cited.”
People stroll on Las Ramblas in Barcelona on April 23, 2017. Photo: Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Images

Las Ramblas is like Barcelona’s Times Square—one of the city’s central streets and tourist destinations. As much now as before the attack, the street’s pedestrian walkway, which leads from the city’s central square to the Mediterranean sea, is constantly packed with tourists, street vendors, restaurants and the occasional artist. Even before the attack, police flanked either side of the entrance, sporting submachine guns and military-style police vans.

After the attack, police quickly found plans for what would have been a larger, more deadly atrocity: the detonation of a rental truck full of gas canisters next to the Sagrada Familia, another one of Barcelona’s famous landmarks. That plan was foiled when the person modifying the gas canisters set them off prematurely in a house about 120 miles south of Barcelona.

For people on both sides of the Catalan independence movement, the Barcelona attack came to represent a grave example of the other sides’ failings, explains Josep Àngel Guimerà, a journalism professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Separatist press argued that there was a lack of communication between Spanish and Catalan counterterrorism police, says Guimerà. For unionists—with the help of El Periódico’s reporting—the attack came to represent the failings of the Catalan police and three top figures in the independence movement.

Guimerà notes that journalists on both sides of the movement were quick to react to the publication of the alleged CIA report. “All of the media that stand opposed to the Catalan independence movement believed Enric [Hernàndez, the director of El Periódico]. And all of those that support the movement doubted him,” says Guimerà. “There was an almost-automatic response on behalf of the media to believe the warning or not.”

Another issue is that Spanish media don’t typically fact-check their articles or investigations, says María Ramírez, a journalist with two decades of experience working for Spanish media. Ramírez is quick to add that individual journalists do often scrutinize and fact-check their own work, but it’s not a common practice.

“There is no newspaper in Spain that has processes of fact-checking like in the U.S.,“ Ramírez, now a journalism fellow at Harvard, explains. “Typically [Spanish journalists], when a source passes them a document, will publish it and that’s it. It would be much more valuable to find another source and build a narrative to explain.”

“If you just publish without checking,” she adds, “you’re not doing your job for readers.”

Beyond that lies another question: If the document is indeed false, who created it?
A police officer patrols on Las Ramblas on Aug. 18, 2017, following a terror attack in Barcelona. Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images

Journalist Carlos Enrique Bayo, head of investigations at Madrid-based news organization Público, has been working on cases like these for a year and a half. In 2016, he and a colleague, Patricia López, obtained explosive recordings of conversations that took place inside the office of Spain’s then-Minister of Interior, Jorge Fernández Díaz.

The publication of the conversations—in which Fernández Díaz and the former head of the Catalan anti-fraud office can be heard discussing a secret political police force—triggered a major investigation in the Spanish Congress. Congressional investigators verified that Fernández Díaz had, during his tenure as Spain’s interior minister, created a covert police unit tasked with obstructing corruption investigations into the conservative People’s Party, which has been in government in Spain since 2011. According to the congressional probe, the political police also worked to investigate Fernández Díaz’s opponents, among them people involved with the rising leftist-populist movement in Spain and the independence movement in Catalonia.

In both cases, congressional investigators found that Spanish police had leaked falsified documents to the press in order to discredit the then-Interior Minister’s adversaries. Bayo notes that one of those police, José Luis Olivera, now leads CITCO, the counterterrorism agency that supposedly received the purported U.S. intelligence document published by El Periódico. (CITCO did not respond to requests for comment.)

Is this a smoking gun? Bayo says no, it is not. But, he adds, it is strange that “right now, a document would appear, written in terrible English, that they say was sent by U.S. intelligence directly to the Mossos, when evidently intelligence agencies typically speak among each other.”

Josep Àngel Guimerà, the journalism professor, agrees. While it is impossible to be certain about what happened, he says he blames a politically-minded leak and journalists who don’t fact check.

“I’m sure there is a report somewhere that says generally that Las Ramblas is a target,” Guimerà remarks. But, he adds: “Out of one grain of sand, there are people here that have tried to build a mountain.”

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TonyGosling
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whistle-blower who challenged Spain's elite - by James Badcock, Madrid
Ex-civil servant Ana Garrido played a key role in exposing the alleged corruption network linked to Spain's ruling Popular Party (PP). And her life has been ruined by doing so.
Almost a decade ago she found that under the area's Popular Party mayor, a network of firms was being favoured without due process. Then she realised the dimensions of a scandal that spread far wider than her leafy area of Madrid.
Ms Garrido's evidence ended up in the hands of investigating judge Baltasar Garzon. But her treatment at work led to clinical depression and, eventually, giving up her civil service career.
"There is nothing like a whistle-blowers' charter in Spain. Not only are we not protected, but we can be persecuted and harassed by those we accuse of abusing power."
Read more from James: A life ruined fighting corruption
Judge Garzon was later taken off the case but not before allegations emerged of a network of companies linked to Mr Correa being handed contracts in return for payments.
Other defendants include long-standing ex-PP treasurer Luis Barcenas, who has also admitted running a slush fund from Switzerland and channelling cash donations to party officials.
Health minister Ana Mato resigned from her job when her husband was linked to the network. Although her husband is among the defendants, she escaped criminal charges.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-37551765

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www.v911t.org
www.thisweek.org.uk
www.abolishwar.org.uk
www.elementary.org.uk
www.radio4all.net/index.php/contributor/2149
http://utangente.free.fr/2003/media2003.pdf
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