April 22nd, 2022
The ANC-Assemblea Nacional Catalana registered the name of this website on 10 January in a portal that had been created by the delegation of Òmnium Cultural in Brussels a year earlier.
The operation christened ‘Catalangate’ by the pro-independence world has been prepared with great detail and means for months. Three months before the research laboratory on political issues, new technologies, global security and human rights Citizenlab published last Monday 18 April the report on the infection of mobile phones of pro-independence people using the Pegasus application with the title of ‘Catalangate’, this expression already had a website registered on the Internet. The ‘Assemblea Nacional Catalana’ (ANC) had done so on 10 January. The ‘Catalangate.cat’ portal is hosted by the website ‘dialogueforcatalonia.com’. The legal notice of this website states that it is owned by Òmnium Cultural. It is the website of Òmnium Civil Rights Europe, the Brussels branch of the organisation that for some weeks now has been chaired by Xavier Antich, replacing Jordi Cuixart, both of whom have allegedly been spied on. Òmnium Cultural registered it thirteen months earlier, on 14 December 2020.
In addition to the website, the ANC and Òmnium have also collaborated in setting up a Twitter channel to disseminate their propaganda. They have called it ‘Catalangate. They are watching us’ and explain that it is the “official account of the victims of #catalangate, the biggest case of cyber espionage ever discovered”. This claim is exaggerated given that the number of pro-independence supporters affected, according to the espionage complaint, is 65, and in Mexico it is estimated that the government may have used the Pegasus programme to tap the mobile phones of 15,000 people.
The definition of the Twitter profile of @catalangate also reads “they are watching us: follow us and let’s uncover it”. It had 182,541 followers on Thursday 21 April and followed 1996 Twitter users. It is not that these more than 180,000 followers had signed up since last Monday, but that the portal had been created in December 2012. Since then it has been changing its name. It was called @araeslhora, a joint campaign by Òmnium Cultural and the ANC for the Diada demonstration in 2015, @cridaperlademocracia, the slogan of a campaign promoted by Òmnium Cultural in 2017, and finally @ElJudici. The last tweet of @ElJudici, before changing its name to Catalangate, dates from 12 June 2020 and recalled that it had been a year since the trial of the pro-independence supporters for holding the referendum of 1 October and the proclamation of independence had been sentenced. After almost two years of silence, the portal reappeared on 18 April, under the name @catalangate, with messages attaching the Citizenlab report and the article in The New Yorker that disseminated it.
The tweet posted on the Twitter profile of Catalangate is the video that was disseminated the following day, one minute long and with a level of production and interpretation that could not have been improvised in a few hours. As in years past, nobody acknowledges paternity of the videos accompanying the campaigns of Òmnium Cultural and the ANC. Only the first of the series, Help Catalonia, is known to have been made by the production company Batabat, owned by Oriol Soler, who is under investigation for his involvement in the illegal financing of the pro-independence process. Surprisingly, Soler does not appear among the victims of Catalangate. What came as no surprise either to him or to any of the pro-independence supporters involved in the case was the outbreak of the scandal. It had been brewing for months.