Iberdrola sues Spanish news site for $20 million over spying case coverage

Iberdrola said on Tuesday it had sued El Confidencial over its coverage of an investigation into allegations of corporate espionage involving Spain’s electricity company, a move the independent news site called an attack on freedom of speech. the press.

Iberdrola said in a statement that it was suing El Confidencial for 17.6 million euros ($20 million), alleging that over the more than two years to November 2021, it had published 225 articles about the case, 68 of which she considered prejudicial and 12 false. A spokesperson for Iberdrola, whose market cap exceeds 60 billion euros and had annual revenue in 2020 of 33 billion euros, declined to identify the stories involved.

Nacho Cardero, director of El Confidencial, said Iberdrola’s decision was “an attack on freedom of the press”, adding that a major public service was making a multimillion-euro claim against the website for “reporting ‘too much’ on a case in which its leaders were implicated”. “It can have only one objective: to silence the press,” Cardero said in a statement sent to Reuters. El Confidencial, with 200 employees , has around 22 million unique visitors per month.

Iberdrola CEO Ignacio Sanchez Galan is being investigated for alleged corruption and privacy breaches as part of a wider probe into whether the company hired a former chief executive. police to spy on Real Madrid football club president Florentino Perez in 2009. A spokesman for the court in Bilbao where Iberdrola’s complaint was filed on January 21 declined to comment on the timing of the rulings. The judges of the court will decide whether to answer before proceeding.

Sanchez Galan testified last month in court in the case, which involves an investigation of three other executives. Iberdrola denied wrongdoing by any of them. The case began resonating outside Spain in December when regulators in the US state of New Mexico cited it in arguments against approving Iberdrola’s $8.3 billion bid. dollars to buy local utility PNM Resources. ($1 = 0.8761 euros)

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