MADRID – Spain is one of the countries most exposed to the “lack of pluralism”. This is stated by the Council of Europe in a report regarding the freedom of the press published on Tuesday.
Press freedom in the country is therefore below the European average. Spain got 55 out of 100 points. The European average is 51 points. Germany is the country with the best situation, with 21 points. At the other extreme are countries such as Turkey and Albania with 82 and 70 points respectively.
Spain scores similarly to Cyprus or Malta states accused of using surveillance programs. In the document, the Council of Europe points to the espionage suffered by Catalan journalists and activists due to the Pegasus case.
The report provides an overview of the allegations Spain has received for using this software. According to the institution, the behaviour contradicts “the commitment of European governments to suppress the use of illegal espionage”.
Espionage of Catalan journalists
The investigation recalls that in April 2022 it became known that four Catalan journalists were spied on. They are Meritxell Bonet – the wife of Jordi Cuixart -, the Vice President of Òmnium Cultural, Marcel Mauri; the wife of Carles Puigdemont, Marcela Topor, and the former deputy of the Parliament of Catalonia, Albano Dante Fachín. The case of journalist Ignacio Cembrero, who has been identified as a potential victim by the Moroccan government, is also mentioned.
The Council of Europe also indicates that experts point out that the number of victims of this espionage case is “much higher” and that despite the scandal “the tools to limit the use of espionage programs are still limited”.
In 2020, the Spanish organisation Reporteros Sin Fronteras stated that Spain ranked 29th in the press freedom index. Two years later, in May 2022, the country dropped to 32nd place, ranking just below Austria and above Bhutan. Ireland is in 6th place, New Zealand 11, Canada 19 and the United Kingdom 24. Australia 39 and the United States 42 rank worse than Spain.