SPAIN’S acting Home Secretary, the Popular Party’s (PP) Jorge Fernandez Diaz, is facing calls to resign over a series of leaked audio recordings in which he appears to encourage investigations into political opponents in Catalunya, just days before the general election on Saturday, June 26.
The files, dating from 2014 were published by news website Publico on Tuesday, June 21, and feature a conversation between Diaz and Daniel de Alfonso, chief of the Catalan anti-fraud office, with the pair now accused of plotting to falsify corruption cases in order to discredit members of Catalan separatist parties ERC (Esquerra) and CDC.
At several points, the minister demonstrates clear interest in cases involving Catalan pro-independence politicians, requesting personal copies of certain files and discussing the sale of certain information to the Spanish press.
Opposition leaders have, predictably, reacted with outrage, with a unanimous call for the stricken official’s resignation, although on Wednesday Diaz denied all accusations of wrongdoing, asserting that “the only conspiracy here relates to who made the recording and who released it a few days before the election.”
He went on to state that he has no intention of resigning, describing himself and the anti-fraud boss as the real victims of the affair, before declaring that a police investigation will be opened, although this held little sway with his political opponents.
De Alfonso was less guarded, telling a radio station: “I will not resign, it is the Minister who should do so.”
Pablo Iglesias, leader of left-wing coalition Unidos Podemos, said: “I have listened to the recordings and what we have is a minister who is apparently using his office and his resources to investigate political rivals.”
Catalan president Carles Puigdemont echoed the feeling, saying that “we always had the suspicion but now it is clear that there has been a strategy of dirty war.”
Acting Prime Minister and PP leader Mariano Rajoy has attributed the scandal to a smear campaign, stating that “someone is trying to take advantage and fish in troubled waters to see what they catch.”