Just after midnight on Wednesday, Enric Hernández, the editor of El Periódico, announced on Twitter that his newspaper had published an exclusive story: the CIA had sent the Catalan police, the Mossos, a warning about an upcoming terror attack in La Rambla, the same Barcelona street that was attacked on August 17.
The US intelligence alert, according to the story, was sent out by the National Counterterrorism Center on Thursday, May 25, and the list of recipients included not only the Mossos but also the Spanish National Police, the Civil Guard, the Spanish intelligence service (CNI) and Spain's anti-terrorism and organised crime coordination centre (CITCO).
El Periódico claims, citing two "absolutely trustworthy" but unnamed Catalan government sources, that the alert was sent both directly to the Mossos and indirectly to them, via the Spanish National Police, in May.
The newspaper said it had a copy of the message and splashed a large image of it on its front page (see above).
While the second paragraph begins with the phrase "unsubstantiated information of unknown veracity", it ends with "planning to conduct unspecified terrorist attacks during the summer against crowded tourist sites in Barcelona, Spain specifically, La Rambla Street".
"Terrorist attacks" and "La Rambla Street" were highlighted in yellow.
The text in the image also contained several spelling mistakes that a Spanish speaker who has learnt English might make: "Irak" with a "k", the pluralised adjective in "administratives purposes", or the use of Spanish quote marks «…» instead of English ones "…".
In a radio interview on Thursday morning, the editor of El Periódico defended the content of his scoop, but admitted the image on the front page was not that of the original document he still claims is in the possession of his newsroom.
Enric Hernández said he didn't have "any doubts" about the veracity of the story.
"The text is reproduced […] and alludes to the document sent to the Mossos", he said.
He also admitted the font used in the image was not the font used in the original message, which was an e-mail: "We don't reproduce the original font that was sent to us, we reproduce all the content […] but not the font and not a photograph of the document".
"So what is on the front page of El Periódico de Cataluña is not a screenshot of the document you have in your possession?", the presenter asked.
"Exactly", replied the editor.
He added that the text of the written message was exactly the same as the text of the verbal version told to him by Catalan government sources in June.
Published: 12:47 pm, Sep 01 2017 (link)
La Sexta Reports Catalan First Minister Was Source For CIA Story
La Sexta's morning TV news show Al Rojo Vivo reported on Friday that the Catalan First Minister himself, Carles Puigdemont, was one of two Catalan government sources who confirmed the existence of a specific intelligence warning about a possible attack on La Rambla in central Barcelona to the newspaper El Periódico.
"The Catalan First Minister himself, Carles Puigdemont, is one of the two senior government officials who spoke about the alert and threat on La Rambla, and he did so with a senior executive of the newspaper in a private conversation two months before the attacks", a La Sexta Noticias reporter announced on the programme.
On Thursday, the regional interior minister and the chief of the Catalan police admitted "a" warning had been received at the end of May but was discarded as "not credible"; the two men attacked El Periódico and its editor, Enric Hernández, for publishing an "irresponsible" front-page story.
Published: 12:59 pm, Aug 31 2017 (link)
Catalan Government Admits "Low Credibility" Warning For La Rambla
In a confusing, rambling press conference on Thursday morning, the regional interior minister in Catalonia, Joaquim Forn, and Catalan police chief Josep Lluis Trapero vehemently denied the veracity of the "fake" El Periódico front-page story but then admitted a "low credibility" warning had been received at the end of May about La Rambla, from a source they refused to name.
Forn said that "the idea that there was information that if it had been properly treated would have avoided the attack is absolutely false", and accused the newspaper of organising an "irresponsible" smear campaign against the Catalan police. Trapero also blamed El Periódico and its editor, Enric Hernández.
They said "we have no direct relationship with the CIA" and that police received lots of warnings about possible terror attacks. This one was given "low credibility". Central government agencies were also aware of the alert, they said.
Published: 8:54 pm, Aug 31 2017 (link)
El Periódico Publishes "Original" Warning On La Rambla Attack
On Thursday evening, El Periódico published an image of the "original" note containing the warning of a terror attack on La Rambla, this time with no spelling mistakes in English and with sensitive identifying information blacked out. "Iraq" is spelt with a "q", "administrative purposes" no longer has a plural adjective, and it uses English quotation marks ("…") to enclose the body of the text.
The message was sent on August 21—four days after the attack—to someone at Spain's anti-terrorism coordination centre CITCO, and states that the text in the body was sent to the Catalan police, the Mossos, on May 25, nearly two months before the August 17 terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils.
El Periódico said its original source for the document—still unnamed—had now given them permission to publish the original.