MPs call on Spain to open top secret files

Spanish MPs are calling on the government to follow the example of countries like the US and the UK and declassify masses of secret documents.

MPs call on Spain to open top secret files
Picture taken during the Spanish Civil War in the late 30s of Republicans fighting in a street of an unidentified town against nationalist rebels. File photo: STF/AFP

When it comes to classified documents, Spain is something of an anomaly.

While in the US, classified documents are generally automatically made available after 25 years, and in the UK after 30 years, the decision to make documents public in Spain continues to rest with the government of the day.

This legislative relic of the Franco can see documents resting behind a permanent veil of secrecy, Spain's 20 minutos reported on Tuesday.

But a proposal put forward by Spain's left-leaning Izquierda Unida (IU) party in February would see files over 50 years become publicly accessible. 

Importantly, this would help open up the country's archives on its bloody Civil War of 1936–1939.

The proposal has won the backing of the parliament's Culture Committee, which is now calling on Spain's conservative government to carry out a full review of which pre-1963 documents could be de-classified.    

"Why is the State so afraid that it is trying to stop  investigation? What is there to hide years of centuries later?" Chesús Yuste of the IU said during a debate on the issue in the Spanish Parliament on Monday. 

The issue of making classified documents public has been the subject of a long-running debate in Spain.  

In 2012, Spain's defence ministry rejected calls from 300 researchers the declassification of 10,000 documents from the period 1936 to 1968, saying it would only create a "media frenzy".

The task was "not a priority", said Defence Minister Pedro Morenés at the time. 

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