Spanish police arrested top-ranking Catalan officials including the region’s junior economy minister Josep Maria Jove, as Madrid launched a crackdown on Catalonia over the upcoming Independence referendum Reuters reported. Jove, who is a senior member of the Republican Left of Catalonia political party, was detained following a Wednesday morning raid carried out by Spain’s Civil Guard, which has the authority of both the Interior and the Defence ministries.
At least a dozen high-ranking local officials were arrested, La Vanguardia newspaper said. Among those detained are Josue Sallent Rivas from the Centre of Telecommunications and Information Technology, Xavier Puig Farré from the Office of Social Affairs and Josep Maria Salvat Tenesa from the Ministry of Economics and Finance.
Police, acting under court orders, have stepped up raids on printers, newspaper offices and private delivery companies in recent days in a search for campaign literature, instruction manuals for manning voting stations and ballot boxes.
On Tuesday, Spain’s Civil Guard, a national police force, seized more than 45,000 envelopes packed in cardboard boxes that the Catalan government was ready to send to notify people around the region about the referendum.
“Catalonia is now in a state of siege ”, Catalonia’s Minister of Labor, Social Affairs and Family Dolors Bassa said on Twitter, confirming that the Civil Guard has also entered her department.