Catalonia on streets after Spain's arrests

The Latest: Police arrests Catalan crackdown

A Catalan regional judge has ordered the release with restrictions of six people arrested as part of a crackdown by Spanish authorities on preparations for an October 1 independence referendum for Catalonia, which Spain says is illegal.

"We will do it because we have contingency plans in place to ensure it happens, but above all because it has the support of the huge majority of the population who are sick of the arrogance and abuse of the People's Party (PP) government", he said in a televised statement.

Students occupied the University of Barcelona on Friday, September 22, in another grand display of support for the referendum on Catalan independence planned for the start of next month.

Sturgeon's National Party has formerly called for a fresh vote on independence before Britain leaves the European Union (EU).

At least 20,000 people gathered outside the Catalonian region's higher court in Barcelona on Thursday to protest against the arrest of 14 officials for their alleged involvement in the preparation of an independence referendum that the Spanish judiciary has deemed unconstitutional. Several others were also arrested Wednesday but were later released.

Protests have been ongoing in the city since Wednesday, as people took to the streets to defend a referendum that they consider to be democratic and the Spanish state considers illegal and unconstitutional.

The interior ministry has not disclosed how many more police officers it is sending to the region but Spanish media said between 3,000 and 4,000 had already arrived or were on their way.

Regional vice president Oriol Junqueras, whose deputy Josep Maria Jove was among those held, told Catalonia's TV3 that the crackdown meant "the rules of the game have been changed".

Mr Puigdemont had accused the central government of effectively suspending devolution after it moved to seize control of regional finances to stop them being used to fund the referendum. A pro-independence group says that about 2,500 supporters were attending the protest in Hospitalet.

Spain's central government says the planned referendum violates Spain's constitution, and the Constitutional Court has ordered it suspended while it studies its legality.

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