Reports: Spain fires intelligence chief amid hacking scandal

MADRID (AP) — The Spanish government has fired the director of its top intelligence agency in two separate cases of hacking politicians’ cellphones, Spanish media reported Tuesday.

Spanish news agency EFE and other outlets report that the Spanish cabinet has agreed that Paz Esteban will be relieved of his duties as head of Spain’s National Intelligence Center, or CNI.

The Cabinet is expected to make a formal announcement later on Tuesday.

The decision comes after Esteban admitted last week before a closed-door committee of the Spanish parliament that his agency had legally hacked into the phones of several Catalan separatists after receiving judicial authorisation.

His agency is also under scrutiny for recent government revelations that the mobile phones of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his Minister of Defense were also infected with Pegasus spyware by an “external” power.

Esteban, 64, became the first woman to lead the CNI in July 2019, initially on an interim basis before her appointment was made permanent in February 2020.

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