Òmnium Cultural: Spain answers complaint, justifying police infiltration in youth groups

23 September 2022 | Members' Corner

The interior ministry of Spain has admitted and defended planting undercover officers in youth groups in a response to a judicial complaint laid by Òmnium Cultural. The orgnaisation filed the complaint after news emerged of two cases in which undercover police had been placed in pro-independence Catalan youth movements. The ministry defended its action by linking the movements with terrorism. Òmnium President Xavier Antich has labelled these actions a clear violation of fundamental rights. READ MORE.

Spanish ministry says it is “appropriate” to place undercover officers in Catalan pro-independentist youth groups, citing alleged “philo-terrorist” dynamics

The Spanish state admitted and justified the illegal planting of undercover officers in two pro-independence youth organizations, the Students’ Union of the Catalan-speaking Countries (SEPC) and the ERC party youth wing, Jovent Republicà. The justification from the Spanish interior ministry includes claims directly linking the Catalan independence movement with terrorism, as it was stated in the ministerial response to the judicial complaint laid by Òmnium Cultural, member of the ECF, before the National Audience court at the end of July.

The president of Òmnium, Xavier Antich, stated that these practices by Fernando Grande-Marlaska’s interior ministry represent a clear violation of fundamental rights, and framed them in the context of the “general case” against the Catalan movement for self-determination, in which the Spanish state acts with total impunity and outside the law to suppress pro-sovereignist groups. “There is a state strategy to link this Catalan movement to terrorism”, said Antich, outlining how “the state invents a false violence because it is unable to face the Catalan political conflict democratically, and applies measures specific to the fight against terrorism against a democratic and peaceful movement.

The president of Òmnium stressed the seriousness of a situation where “a supposedly democratic state invents non-existent violent practices”. Antich considered that all of this is part of “a campaign of fear to scare pro-independence activism”. For this reason, he remarked that “the best response to the state’s dirty war is to once again demonstrate on the streets the strength of this democratic movement”. On social media, the Òmnium leader expressed his support for the two youth organizations and in an interview with Catalunya Ràdio, he admitted his surprise at receiving such an explicit official answer. So much so that in the five pages in which the interior ministry justifies its actions, it points out aspects such as membership of multiple groups as a dangerous element of the fabric of the sovereignist movement, as well as making the claim that such groups are “giving origin to dynamics that are violent and philo-terrorist” – that is to say, pro-terrorist dynamics.

In addition, the document from the interior ministry that Òmnium received as a response argues that it considers it “legitimate, suitable and appropriate” to place undercover agents in youth movements to capture information, linking this directly with the usual practices in the prevention of terrorism on the basis of, according to the ministry, alleged violent actions and strategies in the independence movement: “people who belong to the sphere of pro-independence associations, encompassing a wide range of associations, work towards the achievement of the illegal independence of Catalonia, even carrying out in some cases radical-violent types of actions within the framework of the global secessionist strategy”. Regarding the techniques used by the police monitoring these youth movements, the Ministry justifies it by pointing out that they are tactics included in the anti-terrorist protocols.

In spring 2022, two cases came to light involving undercover members of Spain’s National Police and pro-independence youth groups in Catalonia. In one case, an officer managed to spend two years posing as a member of the Students’ Union of the Catalan-speaking Countries, while also being active in other Barcelona groups, like the left-wing housing action group Resistim al Gòtic; while in a second case, the Spanish-government based National Security department made an attempt to recruit a former member of the ERC youth wing, asking him to rejoin that group as a way of spying on the actions of a second group, the Batec collective.