Spain’s Telecinco television channel revealed Wednesday a series of mobile phone messages written by sacked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to another separatist, in which he says it’s likely all over for him.
The revelations, which Puigdemont did not deny, came as the Spanish government urged the Catalan parliament to pick another candidate to head up the region instead of the separatist leader, who is in self-exile in Belgium and faces arrest if he returns.
A Telecinco reporter caught on camera the phone of Toni Comin, a former Catalan minister who like Puigdemont is in self-exile in Belgium after the failed independence bid, while he was looking at messages sent to him by the separatist leader.
This reportedly happened on Tuesday evening, just hours after the Catalan parliament’s speaker postponed a crunch vote to reappoint Puigdemont as Catalan leader, drawing an outcry among separatist ranks but welcome by Madrid and anti-independence parties.
The messages reportedly sent on the ultra-secure messaging service Signal see Puigdemont considering it is over for him and that he has been “sacrificed” by his peers.
He also says this was all the fruit of a “plan” by Spain’s central government.
In the messages, he hints that Madrid may have agreed to push for the release of separatist leaders currently in jail in Spain for their independence drive in exchange for dropping Puigdemont.
Reacting to the news on Twitter, Puigdemont did not deny he had sent the messages but denounced the privacy violation.
“I’m human and there are times when I also have doubts,” he said, adding he would not back down in his bid to lead Catalonia again, contradicting the messages he sent in private.
Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, however, asked the parliamentary speaker to open a “fresh round of talks” to get another candidate.
“I can’t believe that among the over one hundred lawmakers in the assembly there is nobody who can recover the path of dialogue and consensus,” she said.
Puigdemont’s messages were apparently sent around the same time as he released a video in which he called for unity among the separatist camp and insisted only he could lead Catalonia.
He says he has the mandate to return as Catalan president from regional elections on December 21st which saw separatist parties retain their majority, led by his grouping.
Comin’s lawyer will sue Telecinco for violating his privacy.