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Watch back: Protests in Catalonia as regional leaders call for self-determination

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By Euronews  with Reuters
Protest to call for the release of jailed separatist leaders in Barcelona
Protest to call for the release of jailed separatist leaders in Barcelona   -   Copyright  REUTERS/Albert Gea   -  

Protesters took to the streets of Catalonia as pro-secessionist groups called for demonstrations in Barcelona over the jailing of their leaders.

Two grassroots pro-secession organisations, ANC and Omnium, whose leaders Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart were sentenced for sedition, called for a march at 5 pm local time, while Catalan leader Quim Torra is expected to speak after meetings with regional mayors.

Also in Barcelona Saturday, a rally by the Hablemos-Parlem group in Plaza Sant Jaume will see protesters dressed in white calling for dialogue between Spain and Catalonia.

Read more: Hong Kong protesters rally for Catalan independence

Cuixart told Reuters on Friday that in condemning him and other separatists to long prison terms the country was effectively criminalising all dissent against the state. He was jailed last week for up to 13 years alongside eight others over a failed bid for independence in 2017.

The 44-year-old said that he remained in favour of Catalan independence and would support another referendum on it, but spoke out against some of the violence that has been seen at pro-separatist protests in Barcelona.

Catalan language

Omnium Cultural, which Cuixart chairs, was founded in 1961 to defend Catalan culture under the Franco dictatorship when public use of the Catalan language was banned.

In Spain, all but one of the main political parties have consistently opposed an independence referendum for Catalonia, but separatist parties are not banned and the region already enjoys a degree of political autonomy and control over part of its budget.

About 2.3 million people turned out for the referendum - around 43% of eligible voters - with 90% voting to break away from Spain, according to the Catalan government, as many opposed to independence boycotted the ballot.