'Enough repression': pro-independence camp blasts police operation against businesspeople

Sympathizers decry "human rights violations" and "set-ups"

Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont in Antwerp, Belgium on September 10, 2020 (by Natàlia Segura)
Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont in Antwerp, Belgium on September 10, 2020 (by Natàlia Segura) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

October 28, 2020 01:06 PM

News of the Spanish police operation on Wednesday morning in which prominent business people with ties to the independence camp were detained has caused unrest amongst the movement's sympathizers, with many calling for an end to "repression."

Around 100 people participated in a protest at Barcelona's Plaça Sant Jaume to denounce the Guardia Civil's 'Volhov' operation.

Among those detained for alleged misuse of public funds, money laundering and breach of official duty are well-known editor Oriol Soler, former senior official of the now-defunct CiU party David Madí, former ERC party senior official Xavier Vendrell, and Xavier Vinyals of a lobby in favor of Catalan national sports teams.

Josep Alay, who was close to former president Carles Puigdemont, was also detained but has already been released. All men have ties to the ERC and JxCat pro-independence parties.

Puigdemont: actions "against political dissidents"

Carles Puigdemont, who was Catalonia's president at the time of the 2017 independence bid, swiftly criticized the investigation carried out by the Spanish Guardia Civil.

"Spain's Guardia Civil just detained my head of office in Barcelona, Josep Alay, together with a dozen of other people linked with the pro-independence movement," the Catalan politician who resides in Belgium tweeted.

"They must be immediately released. Acting against political dissidents is a huge violation of fundamental rights."

Junqueras: "repression never ends"

"The repression against the independence movement never ends," a Tweet sent from jailed former vice president Oriol Junqueras' account read.

"Our convictions and determination do not either. We will not step down. For freedom, social justice, and the Catalan Republic."

Parliament speaker: "Enough with the set-ups"

Meanwhile, parliament speaker Roger Torrent, of Esquerra Republicana, asked for an end to the "set-ups to criminalize the independence movement," adding that the only solution to the Catalan conflict was an "amnesty" for the jailed leaders and "self-determination."

Torrent himself is currently involved in a case, along with other pro-independence figures including Ernest Maragall, regarding the alleged targeting of his phone by government-grade spyware following a WhatsApp security breach. A judge has recently agreed to hear this case.

JxCat spokesperson calls for "common front" against "repression"

Laura Borràs, JxCat's spokesperson in Spain's Congress, urged the independence movement to create a "common front" against "repression." According to her, this should come from both Catalan institutions as well as from protesters taking to the streets.

Borràs is being investigated by the Supreme Court for alleged misuse of public funds when she was at the head of the Catalan Institute of Letters in what she and her allies have described as an act of "injustice."