Crackdown on Catalonia referendum officials

Protesters pack the University square in Barcelona Spain Sunday Sept. 24. Thousands of Catalan separatists are rallying in public squares in Barcelona and other towns in support of a disputed referendum on independence of the northeastern region from S

Maza said that the head of regional government could face legal consequences for disobedience, breaching public duties and misuse of public funds for proceeding with the plebiscite after Spain's Constitutional court suspended the legislation that is the basis of the vote.

On Monday - a day before Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is scheduled to meet with President Trump at the White House - I read Nauert's remarks to Sanders and asked if the USA would endorse an independent Catalonia after the controversial vote Sunday.

Spanish authorities have done enough to discredit and prevent a planned referendum this Sunday on independence in Catalonia, two senior government officials told Reuters on Monday, though they may now let a secession "party" happen.

Demonstrators carried pro-independence flags and signs calling for the October 1 vote that the Spanish government calls illegal and has pledged to stop.

"I'm just for a united Spain", said Mr Trump, who cast doubt on polling data predicting a "yes" vote for independence will win.

People who favour independence say Catalonia, which has its own language and culture, is a "nation" - not a "nationality" as recognised by the Spanish constitution - and that as such they should be allowed to have their own state.

Polls show Catalans are split on the issue of independence, but a large majority want to vote in a legitimate referendum to settle the matter.

It is cracking down on organizers by threatening them with prosecution.

However, the Catalan government maintained on Tuesday that the vote would still take place.

Eighteen MSPs expressed "grave concern" at the actions of the Spanish state in a letter to Spain's prime minister.

Catalonia's separatists have pledged to hold the vote regardless.

The Catalan government maintains the referendum will go ahead although it has not explained where people will vote if they can not access the voting booths. "They are excluding half the population", Dastis said. He also voiced his worry that Sunday could see violence in the Catalan region.

Although Catalonia enjoys a certain measure of autonomy, separtists have long campaigned for independence for a wealthy region with its own language and cultural traditions.

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