National Intelligence Centre

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National Intelligence Centre
Centro Nacional de Inteligencia
Agency overview
Formed May 6, 2002
Preceding agency
Jurisdiction Government of Spain
Headquarters Madrid, Spain
Employees 3,500 (2016, according to CNI)
Annual budget 281.95 million (2018)
Agency executive
Parent agency Ministry of Defence
Child agencies

The National Intelligence Centre (Spanish: Centro Nacional de Inteligencia, CNI) is the Spanish official intelligence agency, acting as both its foreign and domestic intelligence agency. Its headquarters are located in the A-6 motorway near Madrid. The CNI is the successor of the Centro Superior de Información de la Defensa, the Higher Centre for Defence Intelligence. Its main target areas are North Africa and South America and it operates in more than 80 countries. CNI's official budget for 2018 is approximately 282 million euros (the CNI can get further resources from the reserve funds).[1]

The Secretary of State—Director of the CNI is currently, a.i., Paz Esteban López.

Goals and operation

The Center's essential goal is to provide the Spanish Government all the necessary information to prevent and avoid any risk or menace that affects the independence or integrity of Spain, its national interests, institutions and rule of law. In the same way, the law states that the specific goals of the CNI will be determined and approved yearly by the Council of Ministers. These goals will be included in a secret document, the Intelligence Guidelines.

Besides this organic control of the Center by the Ministers Council, there is also a judiciary control, given the fact certain activities require such intervention. This control is carried out by a judge of the Spanish Supreme Court, chosen by a qualified majority. In this sense, those actions requiring previous authorization by the court are those regarding communications interdiction, entry and registration at home or enterprise addresses, or any other would-be violations of the fundamental rights granted by the Spanish Constitution of 1978.

Precedents and history

The first Spanish intelligence service was created in 1935, in a short-lived experience with an almost null activity, due to the Spanish Civil War paralysing its development. Student revolts by the end of the 1960s motivated the creation of a National Countersubversive Organization, which was the seed for the Servicio Central de Documentación (SECED), founded in 1972. The Centro Superior de Información de la Defensa (CESID) was formed between 1976 and 1977, from the fusion of the SECED and the High Staff of the Army Information Service (Spanish: Servicio de Información del Alto Estado Mayor (SIAEM)).

Directors of the CESID / CNI


  • Joaquín Bardavio, Pilar Cernuda y Fernando Jauregui (2000). Servicios Secretos. Editorial Plaza & Janés.
  • Antonio M. Diaz Fernandez (2006). Los servicios de inteligencia españoles. Desde la guerra civil hasta el 11-M. Historia de una transición. Alianza Editorial.
  • Carlos Ruiz Miguel (2002). Servicios de Inteligencia y Seguridad del Estado Constitucional. Editorial Tecnos.
  • Fernando J. Muniesa y Diego Camacho (2005). La España Otorgada. Servicios de Inteligencia y Estado de Derecho. Editorial Anroart.


  1. ^ La dotación del CNI crece un 8%, Presidencia se mantiene y baja la de Parques Nacionales

External links

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