Spain
An old espionage scandal shocks Spanish politics
A secret operation designed to hide evidence of corruption during the last administration puts important PP figures up against the ropes.

By now, all of Spain is talking about the so-called "Operation Kitchen", after the judge who is investigating the Villarejo case, regarding a retired police expert in stealing political and even Crown secrets, lifted the summary secret. This is a para-police operation, carried out by some of the main members of former-President Mariano Rajoy's administration and financed with reserved funds, which tried to hinder the investigation of the PP's (Spain's Popular Party) Box B during the previous Spanish government. The party's so-called "Box B" refers to a fund that was used to secretly pay additional salaries to party leaders and business executives during the presidency of José María Aznar (1990-2004) and that would have continued until 2009.

Sources close to the Justice Department have confirmed to LPO that the head of the Central Court of Instruction Number 6 of the Audiencia Nacional is already reading the Anticorruption report. For the time being, the same sources assure, the judge does not rule out the accusation of María Dolores de Cospedal and Jorge Fernández Díaz, former secretary of the PP and Minister of the Interior, respectively.

If the accusation is confirmed, the former ministers would be added to the list of those under investigation for spying on Bárcenas, former treasurer of the PP. Francisco Martínez, ex-Secretary of State for Security between 2013 and 2016, has also been charged.

The request from the Public Prosecutor's Office comes after having searched Martínez's cell phone, which was seized a day before the Covid State of Alarm was decreed in Spain, in mid-March. The former Secretary of State availed himself of his right not to testify before the judge, alleging that the piece was top secret and that he was not sufficiently aware of the charges against him.

Cospedal and Fernández Díaz, two historic leaders of the PP, could be placed on the list of those accused in the Kitchen case, the alleged corruption scheme set up by former Commissioner Villarejo to pay, with reserved funds, Luis Bárcenas' former driver to steal from him any sensitive information he might have on the Popular Party.

The governing PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero Español) party does not rule out supporting the investigative commission proposed by ERC, Eh Bildu, and the Plural Group in Congress against the PP for the new revelations of the Kitchen operation. Adriana Lastra has taken for granted the accusations made by María Dolores de Cospedal and Jorge Fernández Díaz, and has recalled that the Attorney General's office also quotes Teodoro García Egea, the current secretary-general of Pablo Casado's PP, and has stated that the Socialist Group "will study in-depth" Esquerra's proposal and also the accusations against the former PP ministers before making a decision.

In any case, the PSOE spokeswoman in Congress warned, "we do not rule out" the investigation commission: "Now we only know the information provided by the media, but we are going to study the summary and the brief of the Prosecutor's Office". She also anticipated that the socialists would speak with the other groups to test the support for this initiative.

After Lastra's appearance, it was Pablo Echenique's turn to speak to the media. The spokesman for the Unidas Podemos party also said that "it is not out of the question" to create this commission of investigation, recognizing that the formation was already being studied, and anticipating "contacts with the other political forces to guarantee a majority in Congress".

Echenique also commented on the latest revelations about the 'Kitchen' case, stating that "we are seeing evidence of what we already suspected: the PP used state structures, corrupt cops, and friendly judges to persecute their political opponents and to rig democratic fair play. Also to try to prevent Unidas Podemos from entering the government and to prevent their own charges from being convicted by the investigations opened against them".

He added that "Nixon had to resign for installing microphones. The PP has played a leading role in espionage", and recalled that Cospedal, who can be charged, "supported Pablo Casado with his commitments and made a pact with him for the new executive of the PP".

He also highlighted that "Pablo Casado had high responsibilities in the PP when all this was happening. We have to get to the bottom of this matter because it explains everything that my political party has been going through in the last few years with false accusations".

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