Spanish police ‘violating rights’ of government officials in interrogations, Catalan executive warns
CATALAN NEWS AGENCY – Guardia Civil also questions the spokesperson of a cross-party civil society group that collected signatures in favor of an agreed referendum
The Catalan Government has accused the Spanish Guardia Civil of “violating rights” of high-ranking officials during a series of interviews related to the October 1 independence referendum. “Persecuting legitimate ideas is abusive, and it is a mistake,” Catalan president Carles Puigdemont tweeted. Puigdemont’s government is planning to report the questioning as it emerged that officers informed one high-ranking official that he was being investigated for “sedition” and interrogated him without the presence of his lawyer.
Two government officials were summoned to give witness statements to the Spanish police on Wednesday: Joaquim Nin, the Presidency Secretary General; and Jordi Graells, Director General of Citizen Attention. The executive’s Director of General of Communications, Jaume Clotet, went to the police station on Thursday, the same day as Joan Ignasi Elena, spokesperson of the National Pact for the Referendum, a cross-party civil society group that collected signatures in favor a referendum held in agreement between Catalonia and Spain.
The officials and representatives of civil organizations were summoned to give witness statements in the so-called ‘Vidal case’, but the questioning had more to do with the planned referendum for October 1. According to Minister of the Presidency and government spokesman Jordi Turull, “going after the National Pact for the Referendum is criminalizing consensus and dialogue.” Although the case is being kept secret, police are apparently investigating the financing behind the group, which collected half a million signatures in favor of a referendum, including those of the Vice President of the European Parliament, Dimitrios Papadimoulis, and the leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias.
Turull said the hearings are an attack on fundamental rights and demonstrate that Spanish police have opened a “general case” against all those that are in favor of a referendum, regardless of whether or not they actually support independence. “We are not going to stay put while these kind of abuses take place and this investigation turns into a general case against the referendum,” he said.
The spokesman described as “unbelievable” that government officials and civil society leaders had to be questioned in regards to the National Pact for the Referendum website, which was used to collect signatures and “only talks about democracy.”
The National Pact for the Referendum spokesperson, Joan Ignasi Elena, said that Spain is using “the instrument’s of the state and the authorities to go after political dissent of all kinds.” “We must say: ‘that is enough’,” he stated after being questioned by Guardia Civil officers on Thursday.