The two main pro-independence associations in Catalonia are planning street protests on Tuesday against the arrest of their leaders.

This is the latest turn of an escalating crisis between the autonomous region and Spanish state authorities.

Jordi Sanchez of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Jordi Cuixart of Omnium Cultural were sent to pretrial detention without bail late on Monday on charges of sedition after being interrogated by a judge in Madrid.

In response, the ANC and Omnium asked people to leave their place of work at noon to stage a brief demonstration, and to take part in a “silent, peaceful” march in downtown Barcelona starting at 8 p.m.

Catalan regional president, Carles Puigdemont, described Sanchez and Cuixart as “political prisoners.”

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Writing on Twitter, Puigdemont slammed the Spanish state: “They are trying to imprison ideas but they strengthen the need for freedom.”

The judge, who sent the pair to prison also questioned on Monday the Head of the Catalan Police, Josep Trapero, and one of his deputies, Teresa Laplana, as part of the same investigation for sedition.

But they were spared detention.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has given Puigdemont until Thursday to retract secessionist moves, or else face the unprecedented activation of an article of the constitution that could allow Madrid to kick Puigdemont out of office and jail him.

Catalonia, a wealthy region in Spain’s north-east with a separate language, is at the centre of a serious political crisis after holding an October 1 independence referendum that was banned by the Constitutional Court and was obstructed violently by Spanish police.


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