By Alyssa McMurtry
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont on Wednesday was defiant after a major police operation to stop a proposed independence referendum resulted in at least 12 arrests of high-level politicians and civil servants plus dozens of raids.
“The Spanish government has crossed the red line that separated it from authoritarian regimes and it has turned into a democratic embarrassment,” Puigdemont told a news conference on Wednesday, claiming that Spain’s “aggression is outside of the law” is a “de facto suspension of Catalan autonomy”.
However, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said his government was “doing what it must; it is complying with its obligation and we will continue doing it until the end”.
The premier told a news conference that those involved in organizing the vote had repeatedly been warned of the consequences of breaking the law.
In a major operation ahead of the region’s controversial Oct.1 independence referendum, Spanish police on Wednesday raided several Catalan government buildings in Barcelona.
A senior Catalan politician -- Joseph Maria Jove, number two to Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras -- was also detained, according to Spanish daily El Mundo.
Catalan daily La Vanguardia reported that a further two high-profile politicians were also arrested.
However, Spanish police and the country’s interior ministry would not confirm the arrests to Anadolu Agency.
The premises of Catalan economy and finance ministry, the foreign affairs ministry and the presidency were all searched.
As a result of Wednesday’s raids, Spanish news agency Efe reported that police seized up to nine million voting ballots.