AN investigation by the EU Parliament around the use of spyware has found 65 Catalonians within the independence movement were targeted.

The draft report from the Inquiry Committee investigating Pegasus and equivalent spyware has backed accusations first made by Canadian research group Citizen Lab in April, triggering the hacking scandal known as Catalangate.

It says the Spanish government has “given little information” so far on their role, with it citing a need for “confidentiality in relation to national security”.

However it added: “On the basis of a series of indicators it is generally assumed that the surveillance of the Catalan targets was conducted by the Spanish authorities, mainly in connection with the 1 October 2017 independence referendum in Catalonia, and ensuing events.”

The director of Spain’s National Intelligence Centre has admitted that 18 out of the 65 people targeted were hacked by the Spanish authorities with court authorisation, the report noted.

READ MORE: Explained: What is Catalangate and what are latest developments

This includes current President of Catalonia, Pere Aragones, former President and current MEP Carles Puigdemont and other pro-independence politicians and their associates.

But the Spanish government has refused to comment on whether or not they were responsible for targeting the remaining victims, which included current President of Catalonia, Pere Aragones, former President and current MEP Carles Puigdemont and former St Andrews University professor Clara Ponsati.

At a press conference Sophie In ‘t Veld, the rapporteur for the Inquiry Committee, said the Spanish case was a “very delicate situation”.

“We have very little official information of what is happening, but what we do see is there are strong indications that politicians and others have been monitored and spied upon with no evident imminent immediate threat to national security,” she said.

When asked about the evidence behind the report, she added: “I would be very grateful for factual information from the government. But you cannot say we refuse to give you information, but you are not allowed to look at anything else. What are we supposed to do, remain quiet and blind?

“That is why I make a comparison with a jigsaw puzzle, if you have a jigsaw puzzle of 1000 pieces, if 100 pieces are missing you can still pretty much see what is going on.”

Meritxell Serret, Catalan minister for foreign affairs said the Pegasus spyware case was an “attack against fundamental and political rights”.

She said: "As Government, we're satisfied with the European Parliament’s draft report on Pegasus ; we welcome its content, the proposals included and the Committee's assessment of the case.

READ MORE: Talks between Spanish and Catalan governments may resume

“We want to emphasise that the draft includes the 65 pro-independence leaders and members of civil society affected by Pegasus, not only the 18 admitted by Spanish authorities.

“We’ll keep a close eye to the final conclusions, but we welcome this warning to the Spanish Government."

The report, which also looked at a number of other countries including Poland, Hungry, Greece and Cyprus, warned the abuse of spyware violates privacy rights for individuals and also undermines “democracy and democratic institutions by stealth”.

It added: “It silences opposition and critics, eliminates scrutiny and has a chilling effect on free press and civil society.”