New protests after Catalonia secession leaders jailed

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BARCELONA, Spain  — Protesters were gathering for a fresh round of demonstrations in Barcelona Tuesday to demand the release of two leaders of Catalonia’s pro-independence movement who were jailed in a sedition probe.

A Madrid judge on Monday provisionally jailed Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, the leaders of grassroots organizations Catalan National Assembly and Omnium Cultural.

The judge ruled they were the orchestrators of massive demonstrations Sept. 20-21 in Barcelona that hindered a police operation against preparations for the Oct. 1 independence referendum.

Protests have been called at midday Tuesday in Barcelona, the Catalan capital, and an evening demonstration is also planned.

Some 500 students left classrooms in one of Barcelona’s main universities to join the demonstrations.

“We urge the release of our political prisoners and call on Catalan authorities to revoke the suspension of the independence declaration and proclaim the Catalan republic,” said Aina Delgado Morell, a representative of Universitats per la Republica, a pro-independence student organization.

Students would keep protests going to “stop the repression by the Spanish state,” she added.

Thousands of supporters banged pots and pans and honked car horns in Barcelona following the independence leaders’ jailing Monday.

The judge’s order came nearly 12 hours after a Monday morning deadline passed without the president of Catalonia clarifying whether he has declared independence from Spain.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont made an ambiguous declaration of independence last week, based on the results of the Oct. 1 referendum.

Puigdemont now has until Thursday to backtrack on any steps the region has taken toward secession. If he refuses, the government has said it would invoke constitutional authority to restrict or revoke the areas of self-governance Catalonia has now.

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