Spanish Police Detain Catalan Politicians Ahead Of Independence Vote

Spain's Guardia Civil raids Catalan government offices

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

The leader of Catalonia has said Spain is showing a "totalitarian attitude" with the arrests of Catalan officials and civil servants, and vowed to go ahead with an independence referendum despite legal warnings not to do so.

They waved the red-and-yellow Catalan flag and chanted "Occupying forces out" and "Where is Europe?".

Wednesday's raids came a day after 45,000 envelopes donning logos of the Catalan government were seized in the town of Terrassa, and Barcelona have now issued a statement in support of the democratic rights of the people of Catalonia.

"Primavera Sound can not and does not want to keep quiet about the events that have taken place in Catalonia and especially what has taken place today in Barcelona", the statement says.

Over the past few days, police have ramped up their seizure of items that could be used in the referendum, including notifications waiting to be sent to Catalans selected to staff polling stations.

Carles Puigdemont, the head of Catalonia's regional government, described the raids as "a co-ordinated police assault" that showed that Madrid "has de facto suspended self-government and applied a de facto state of emergency". This and other measures are making it harder and harder for Catalonia's executive to stage the referendum, and Spain's leading El Pais and El Mundo dailies said Madrid had dealt a major blow to the organisation of the vote.




Nicola Sturgeon has backed the right of the Catalan government to hold an independence referendum as she spoke of her concern over attempts to stop it.

Wednesday also saw the Spanish central government take over control of "non-vital payments" made by the Catalan regional authority, meaning that among other things, Madrid will now pay the wages of Catalan civil servants.

Puigdemont also says that the central authorities moves amount to a "de facto" suspension of Catalonia's self-rule.

With tensions mounting, separatist organisations called for more people to protest as leaders in a region deeply divided over independence pressed ahead with preparations for the October 1 vote. Spanish police detained 14 Catalan officials involved in organizing a vote declared illegal by the Spain government. While Catalonia is one of Spain's wealthiest regions, Catalans argue they pay more into the national budget than they get back.

Those reported to have been arrested include secretary general of economic affairs and aide to the Catalan vice-president Josep Maria Jove and secretary of taxation Lluis Salvado.

Officers are also searching a Catalan government data center, a press officer for the Barcelona-based executive said in a text message.

Sturgeon said the Edinburgh Agreement, drawn up by the Scottish and United Kingdom governments before the 2014 independence referendum in Scotland, could act as a template for others.

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