Spain Moves Against Catalan Separatists as Police Raid Offices

Joy Montgomery
September 22, 2017

Some 7.5 million people live in Spain's well-off north-eastern region and a majority are thought to be in favour of having a vote.

Protesters gather outside Catalonian regional government offices following raids and arrests of top officials.

Sturgeon was speaking after thousands of people took to the streets of Barcelona on Wednesday to protest against the detention of key members of the team organising an independence referendum for Catalonia set for October 1 which Madrid and Spanish courts say is illegal.

Numerous angry protesters have been waving Catalonia's red and yellow flag while chanting "We will vote" and "Hello Democracy!"

On Tuesday, officers seized a trove of documents related to the independence referendum from the offices of Unipost, a private delivery company, in Terrasa, a city near Barcelona.

Barcelona said it "condemns any act that may impede the free exercise of these rights".

'These people actually are taking some Nazi attitudes because they are putting up posters with the faces of mayors who are resisting their call to participate in this charade, ' Mr Dastis said.

Over the past few days, police have ramped up their seizures of items that could be used in the referendum, including notifications which were about to be sent to Catalans selected to staff polling stations. As per the referendum, Catalan residents would be able to vote for independence from Spain.

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"They have cross all lines", Jordi Sanchez, head of the Catalan National Assembly, a pro-independence civic group, said in a phone interview from the middle of the protest.

"Spain has de facto suspended the self-government of Catalonia and has applied a de facto state of emergency", he said.

The others work in various Catalan government departments and are suspects in a probe into "disobedience, misfeasance and embezzlement", the High Court in Catalonia said.

Spanish law enforcement has been closing in on separatist activists over the past week, after the Catalan Parliament legislated earlier this month for the referendum and approved the foundations for a Catalan republic in defiance of Spain's Constitutional Court. While Catalonia is one of Spain's wealthiest regions, Catalans argue they pay more into the national budget than they get back.

He argued that the actions of the Spanish state, which considers a planned independence vote illegal, are "totalitarian" and amount to the suspension of Catalan home rule.

And it has threatened to arrest mayors who facilitate the vote if they do not comply with a criminal probe in the matter and has tightened control over the region's finances.

According to Catalan government sources, Catalonia's junior economy minister and the secretary general of the Catalan vice-presidency, Josep Maria Jove, have been taken into custody by Spanish police.

A spokesman for Junqueras confirmed the arrest and said that other Catalan government premises were being searched by the agents.

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