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ARGENTINA | 20-02-2020 20:28

Judge probes whether Messi was spied on by government agencies

Federal justice is investigating whether former Macri administration officials illegally used information systems to spy on star Lionel Messi, as well as dozens of local politicians, judges, journalists and businessmen.

Courts in Argentina are investigating if Albiceleste captain Lionel Messi was spied on by state agencies during Mauricio Macri's 2015 to 2019 government.

Messi, 32, was added to the list that Federal Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral has in his office, in order to determine if he was spied on from different state agencies during the government of Mauricio Macri.

The footballing megastar is on the list of more than 60 people who were consulted in databases such as the AFIP or the National Directorate of Migration.

The case, led by Canicoba Corral and prosecutor Federico Delgado, began in 2017, following an article by journalist Carlos Pagni, published in April of that year by the newspaper La Nación

Entitled “El pestilente círculo negro” ("The stinking black circle"), Pagni claimed that Messi, among others, was a target of espionage and proposed as a possible motive "a company which appeared in the Panama Papers leak.”.

Following the opening of the investigation, what is sought to establish is whether the various consultations of the State's databases were carried out outside a legal framework or if, from some State agencies "illegal espionage and intelligence activities were deployed" linked to, for example, checking the entry and exit from the country of judges and political leaders, among others, as defined near the file.

Besides Messi, among the possible spies are more than 20 federal judges from Buenos Aires, such as María Eugenia Capuchetti, Sebastián Casanello, Daniel Rafecas, Luis Rodríguez and María Servini de Cubría, as well as Supreme Court Justice Juan Carlos Maqueda and Federal Appeals Court judges Martín Irurzun and Mariano Llorens, among others.

The list is completed with almost 30 judges from the rest of the country, prosecutors, governors, ministers, legislators and businessmen, among others.

In the last quarter of 2019, Canicoba Corral ordered the AFIP to report on the searches carried out in its computer systems by Néstor Sosa, a deputy director who, according to a newspaper report, had sought information on television hosts Susana Giménez, Mirtha Legrand, journalist Jorge Lanata and businessman Ángelo Calcaterra.

In addition to the AFIP, the agencies consulted the migration database included the Security Ministry, the UIF watchdog against money-laundering, the Border Guard (Gendarmería), the Attorney-General's Office, the Federal Police, the Airport Security Police and the Coast Guard (Prefectura Naval).

Most of these searches in the migration database were satisfactorily justified by the agencies which were asked for explanations, but the case advances regarding those consultations made outside any judicial investigation.

Cecilia Devanna

Cecilia Devanna

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