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Spanish court summons prime minister’s wife in corruption probe. Government alleges a smear campaign

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — A Spanish investigative judge on Tuesday summoned the wife of Spain’s prime minister to give testimony as part of a probe into allegations that she used her position to influence business deals.

Begoña Gómez is to appear at the Madrid-based court on July 5 to answer questions.

Gómez has yet to speak out about the probe that was made public in April, but Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has repeatedly called it a “smear campaign” to damage Spain’s leftist coalition government led by his Socialist party.

The probe is based on allegations against Gómez made by a group called Manos Limpias, or “Clean Hands.” Manos Limpias describes itself as a union, but its main activity is as a platform pursuing legal cases. Many have been linked to right-wing causes targeting leftist politicians, and most of them never succeed.

After the probe was launched, Sánchez stunned the nation by saying in an open letter published on social media that he would contemplate stepping down for what he said was the “attack without precedent” against his wife. After five days of silence, Sánchez said he had decided to remain in office.

On Tuesday, Sánchez responded to the summoning of his wife with another letter published on his X account.

“We are absolutely calm,” Sánchez wrote. “There is nothing behind these accusations, only a cheap hoax created by far-right groups.”

The summoning of Gómez comes before this week’s European Parliament election, with Spaniards voting on Sunday. Far-right parties across Europe aim for big gains.

“I want to express our surprise for the fact and coincidence that this news is coming out precisely this week,” said Pilar Alegría, spokeswoman for Spain’s government.

“We are absolutely calm because we know there is nothing (to the allegations),” Alegría said. “What does exist is a mudslinging campaign by the right and far right.”

Manos Limpias has said its allegations against Gómez were entirely based on media reports: “If they are not true, it would be up to those who published them to admit to their falsehood, but if they are true, then we believe that the legal case should continue forward.”

Spain’s public prosecutors’ office recommended the probe be thrown out, but a provincial court ruled that the lower-court judge could continue the investigation. The judge will either table the probe or recommend it go to trial.

Earlier this year, Spain’s government watchdog for conflicts of interest tossed out a complaint made by the Popular Party against Sánchez in which the opposition party claimed that Gómez had influenced her husband in a decision related to an airline.

Gómez, 49, does not hold public office and maintains a low political profile. She studied marketing and has been involved with fundraising projects and non-governmental organizations.

The Popular Party insisted that Sánchez should offer explanations.

“That the prime minister’s wife is under investigation and has been summoned for questioning does not mean that she will be found guilty, but it does obligate Sánchez to immediately accept his political responsibility,” party leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo said.

Sánchez said in his second letter that he hopes that voters will support his party in the European elections to fight what he called the “mud machine” that he accused Feijóo of promoting.

By JOSEPH WILSON
Associated Press

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