The Catalan government is taking the EU Commission to the European Ombudsman for not responding to a letter sent last year denouncing Spain’s “unlawful digital repression and censorship”, in reference to the closing of more than a hundred websites to stop the referendum on independence.

In a letter to the ombudsman Emily O’Reilly, Catalonia’s minister for digital policy and public administration, Jordi Puigneró, accuses the Commission’s vice president, Andrus Ansip, of “failing to denounce” that “the values of an open and free Internet have been violated in Spain,” thus “putting at stake the principles of good governance in the EU, and the freedom of 7.5 million European citizens.”

Referendum websites closed

In an attempt to thwart preparations for the October 1 referendum, Spain’s Guardia Civil police closed down several websites related to the vote, as well as those of organizations related to the independence movement.

After the Catalan government’s official informative websites were shut down, servers outside Spain began replicating them and creating online clones. Spain then ordered Internet providers, such as Movistar and Vodafone, to block access to all referendum websites.

The website of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), one of the main pro-independence grassroots organizations in Catalonia, was closed too. The group had to change its domain.