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Reports: Spain fires intelligence chief amid hacking scandal

The Associated Press

MADRID (AP) ??" Spain's government has fired the director of its top intelligence agency amid two separate cases of the hacking of politicians' cellphones, Spanish media reports said Tuesday.

Spain's EFE news agency and other media report that Spain's Cabinet agreed Paz Esteban would be relieved as head of Spain's National Intelligence Center, or CNI.

The Cabinet is expected to make an official announcement later Tuesday.

The decision comes after Esteban admitted last week in a closed-door committee of Spain's Parliament that her agency had legally hacked the phones of several Catalan separatists after receiving judicial permission.

Her agency is also under scrutiny for recent revelations by the government that the cellphones of both Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and its defense minister were also infected with the Pegasus spyware by an "external" power.

The 64-year-old Esteban became the first woman to head the CNI in July 2019, first on an interim basis before her appointment was made permanent in February 2020.

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