Citing government sources, El Pais newspaper reports that the Spanish government has expelled at least two US embassy workers who allegedly tried to bribe Spanish security and intelligence officials for information.
The embassy personnel, whom El Pais did not identify, were discreetly withdrawn at Madrid’s behest after an investigation showed that two Spanish intelligence officers gave information to the US officials for “a large sum” of money. El Pais noted that more than two American embassy officials may have been involved.
According to several sources, one of the Spanish intelligence officials who were bribed was an area chief with 30 years of service and a highly trusted advisor. The other was a low-ranking assistant to the first. Both had ties to American businesses.
Both officials had been arrested two months ago, but the case had remained a secret, per government request, until the investigation came to a conclusion. Both individuals face potential charges of treason for their cooperation with the American embassy staff.
This is not the first such case of American spies being caught and expelled in Spain, as in 1986 former Prime Minister Felipe González ordered the removal of eight CIA agents for spying on the then vice president, Alfonso Guerra.
The Spanish Reaction and Diplomatic Relations:
When asked about the situation, Spain’s Defence Minister Margarita Robles acknowledged an inquiry was opened to look into “irregular conduct” at Spain’s Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI). A judge had initiated the investigation at the request of the CNI, and the case is currently with the investigative courts of the Plaza de Castilla in Madrid.
Robles also made clear that diplomatic relations between the United States and Spain remain in good standing and unaffected. She stated, “Spain and the United States are friends, allies, and partners. When there are issues that may affect us, they are discussed and dealt with, but in no way does that influence the relations we have.”
U.S. Ambassador Julissa Reynoso refused to comment, but El Pais reported that Ambassador Reynoso denied any knowledge or involvement when summoned by the Spanish government. US national security adviser Jake Sullivan also declined to comment.