The presence of the international media in Catalonia to cover last year’s referendum is referenced in the Spanish general prosecutor’s report on the reasons for demanding up to 177 years in prison for Catalan leaders involved in the independence bid. The report says foreign media “manipulated” information and also accuses the executive of “pressuring” foreign correspondents with “partisan” information.

The document refers to the International Press Center set up by a media production group in Barcelona, so that the likes of The Guardian, Le Monde, BBC and CNN, among others, had the facilities to “report live” on the vote, which was deemed illegal by Spain.

“The International Press and Broadcasting Center facilitated the main international media’s offering of live information about the referendum in real time. This happened, among others, with German papers Bild and Der Spiegel, the Italian La Reppublica, the Argentinian Clarín, French papers Le Monde and Le Figaro, British BBC TV and the British paper The Guardian, as well as the US’s Washington Post and CNN” reads the report.

Reporters Without Borders

According to the prosecutor, there were cases of “information manipulation” during the referendum campaign, and the report says that the press center was used as a space for the government to organize “propaganda and electoral events” including a press conference before the vote.

Quoting a report by Spain’s delegation of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the prosecution accuses the Catalan executive of “pressuring” international correspondents posted to Catalonia, using a “whatsapp group” and “sending them partisan information, or suggesting they watch certain videos.” Some foreign journalists have criticised the report and consider it to be biased.

Moreover, French newspaper L’Indépendant notices today that the public prosecutor overlooks a RSF statement denouncing the disproportionate use of violence by Spanish police during the referendum, causing injuries to more than 1000 people, among which  several reporters and photojournalists covering the polling day.