Editorial, 30 November 2022
Image: Carles Puigdemont talks to Diana Riba in a meeting of the Commission that studies the use of the malicious Pegasus programme in ten European countries.
Gregorio Martín says that the Citizen Lab report on spying on Catalan pro-independence supporters is a fallacy and replies to Puigdemont: “I’m sorry, I know more about this than you do”.
The rapporteur of the European Parliament’s committee investigating the use of the Pegasus programme (PEGA) as a spying tool in twelve European countries, Sophie in ‘t Veld, will have to change her draft conclusions regarding Spain after yesterday’s session of the committee. The Dutch Liberal MEP had considered the report christened CatalanGate published by the Canadian group Citizen Lab on 18 April to be indisputable. Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Robotics Institute at the University of Valencia Gregorio Martín disproved their conclusions during his appearance at the committee yesterday morning.
Martin dismissed the scientific reliability of a report, according to which 65 phones of pro-independence supporters in Catalonia had been infected with Pegasus malware in recent years. “The infections detected by Citizen Lab may be due to the normal functioning of the phones. The possibility of creating false positives is a fact. The CatalanGate contains a number of technical errors that make it a fallacy,” he said to the concern of in ‘t Veld, MEPs such as Carles Puigdemont, Jordi Solé and Diana Riba and Oriol Junqueras’ lawyer, Andreu Van den Eynde, who also appeared at the PEGA committee session.
The former president of the Generalitat tried to discredit the testimony of the Valencian professor by assuring that all the experts validate the work of Citizen Lab and that he is the only one who is against it. Martín replied by asking him to go back to the slide with which he had introduced his intervention and where he had presented his CV. He said that he had directed 15 doctoral theses, published 180 articles in scientific journals and 6 books on Computer Science, and that he had been a member of different European Union commissions focused on Research and Development. He added: “I’m sorry, I know more about this than you do. I don’t think there is any security expert who would say that the Citizen Lab report is the word of God. We can discuss it any time!
The Dutch rapporteur reproached Martin for accusing Citizen Lab of lying, to which the professor replied by asking her to retract this statement. “I am not saying that Citizen Lab has lied. What I am saying is that it has not followed scientific standards of rigour, that it has not passed any academic filter and that there is no way of accessing the evidence for its conclusions,” he said. He also called on the Canadian collective to review the methodology it has used, in his view, with the aim of “discrediting democratic systems”.
Citizen Lab used its influence on certain members of the PEGA Commission to prevent the appearance of Gregorio Martín and Javier Olivas, professor of Political Science and Administration at the UNED. Olivas, who has insistently and unsuccessfully requested that Citizen Lab make the data on which it bases its CatalanGate available to an independent technical commission, had also been invited to appear yesterday. Pressure from Citizen Lab, which promoted a smear letter against Martín and Olivas, succeeded in getting the UNED professor’s appearance cancelled, but not that of the professor from the University of Valencia.
John Scott-Railton, senior researcher at Citizen Lab, who was due to appear yesterday, refused to do so in order not to coincide with Martín. Olivas regretted his exclusion at the last minute and announced that he will send the committee his contributions to the debate, contributions that neither Citizen Lab nor the alleged 65 victims of its CatalanGate want to hear.