Reports: Spain sacks intel chief over Pegasus scandal

The Spanish government has dismissed the head of its National Intelligence Center over failures to protect government officials from being spied on with Pegasus software, local media reported Tuesday.

Paz Esteban led the intelligence agency since 2020 and was the first woman in charge of the service.

The Spanish government last week said that Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez was hacked with Pegasus software, an Israeli-made digital hacking tool for snooping on phone communication. Sánchez as well as Defense Minister Margarita Robles fell victim to the malicious software in 2021, in what Madrid called an “illegal and external” intrusion of government communication.

The disclosure that Sánchez was hacked came just weeks after researchers revealed that top Catalan politicians and activists were targeted with spyware too, in what the region’s leaders claimed was an espionage campaign conducted by Madrid’s intelligence services.

Robles is expected to announce the dismissal of Esteban later on Tuesday, El País wrote.