350,000 Catalans Rally Against Imprisonment of Independence Referendum Leaders

LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – Hundreds of thousands of people in the restive region of Catalonia are protesting in Barcelona against the imprisonment of nine separatist leaders for their roles in an illegal 2017 secession bid.

Barcelona’s police say 350,000 people are rallying in downtown Barcelona on Saturday, many waving pro-independence flags for Catalonia. The rally is organized by the main pro-secession grassroots groups who want to create a new state in north-eastern Spain.

Nine Catalan officials were given sentences of nine to 13 years for sedition. They were all acquitted of the more serious crime of rebellion.

The sentences sparked peaceful protests in Barcelona and other nearby cities that later spiraled into violent clashes with police. Protesters say Spain has criminalized the political process of dissent.

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