The suspicions of espionage, increased by the critical situation of the siege against the English, altered in many aspects the daily life of the people of Mahon. Thus, the arrests and the accusation of crimes under the common denomination of treason spread, in an attempt to neutralize civil support for the cause of the still undefeated British garrison, which was garrisoned in the castle of San Felipe.
It is important to keep in mind that at that time the inhabitants of the Island were legally British citizens. Therefore, two very different situations could arise:
– Espionage: A foreigner who acts secretly for the benefit of a foreign power commits the crime of espionage. His performance is punishable but legitimate and because of his risk and danger he can even become heroic and admirable.
– Treason: The natural person who acts against his nation for the benefit of a foreign power commits the crime of treason. His performance is not only punishable but illegitimate, it is also execrable. That is why he will be despised and repudiated and justice will act against him with all rigor.
The person responsible for carrying out the inquiries was Juan Bautista de San Martín y Navaz. The political transcendence of this character is revealed in the account of his own impressions about the management that was entrusted to him in Menorca as a judge that he had to judge and sentence. San Martín y Navaz, auditor general of the army, arrived on the island in the company of the Duke of Crillón for the reconquest of Menorca.