Military link to wire-tap scandal

SPAIN'S military intelligence service, Cesid, was directly implicated in a wire-tapping case involving Count Javier de Godo and his Barcelona-based newspaper, La Vanguardia, the daily El Pais reported yesterday. Its front-page story cited sources 'acquainted with the prosecution evidence', some of which was freed from sub judice restrictions last week.

The case rocked Spain last November, when several former agents of Cesid (Supreme Centre for Defence Information) were arrested, including Colonel Fernando Rodriguez, codenamed Romeo, who had been a Cesid branch chief until last July. He was detained in the Barcelona headquarters of La Vanguardia.

According to the evidence cited by El Pais, the detained former agents were in possession of 'abundant' classified Cesid documents, some involving illegal arms deals and money-laundering. Cesid's head, General Emilio Alonso Manglano, who testified to the investigating judge that none of the documents in the former agents' possession endangered national security, 'is now in danger of losing his job,' El Pais wrote.

One former agent, Miguel Ruiz, alias The Wolf, was periodically in contact with serving Cesid agents, notably Lt-Col Julio Leal who had provided Mr Ruiz with official protection, the paper quoted the prosecution evidence as saying.

Lt-Col Leal asked The Wolf for a written report on his allegations that Oleguer Pujol, 22, the son of Catalonia's Prime Minister Jordi Pujol, was 'collaborating in the reorganisation' of the Catalan nationalist group Terra Lliure (Free Land), El Pais said. The Pujol family strongly denied this.

Count Godo, Vanguardia's owner, was questioned by the investigating judge in November and released on bail, but obliged to report to the judge once a week pending the investigation.

The former Cesid men were detained on suspicion of illegally bugging the Count's telephone and those of several La Vanguardia employees. In some cases, taped conversations were allegedly used to try to extort money. The Count explained the presence of Col Rodriguez in a private office in his building by saying he had hired the former Cesid men for security after receiving death threats from Basque separatists. He said he knew nothing of wire-tapping or extortion.