Constitutional crisis looms in Spain as Catalonia looks to vote on independence

140 pro-independence websites shut down in Catalonia

Many protesters are carrying pro-independence flags and handmade banners, with slogans such as "we want to vote".

Catalonia calls for the European Commission and the European Parliament to respond to the harassment of civil rights organizations, journalists and individuals by Spain ahead of the upcoming independence referendum in Catalonia.

"I wish to inform you then that I shall be calling on the European Commission to open a mediation space for the Spanish government and the Catalan regional government to take part in and I would like you to convey this call for dialogue, as far as possible, to every authority you consider appropriate", Colau said in the letter released on her Twitter account on Thursday.

Catalonia's regional police force, the Mossos d'Esquadra, warned Wednesday that there was a risk of a "disruption of public order" if police sealed polling stations as they have been instructed to do.

Spanish police have arrested key members of the Catalan government organizing the referendum over the past few days while electoral material, including millions of ballot papers, has been seized by authorities who insist the vote is illegal.

Forn met with regional and national security officials to defuse mounting tensions ahead of the ballot.

Thousands of striking university students are marching through Barcelona to protest what they call an intensifying central government crackdown on Sunday's planned independence referendum in Catalonia. The force's loyalty has been torn between the central and regional governments. Reporters Without Borders said the regional government's push to impose its side of the story in local, Spanish and global media has "crossed red lines".

Barcelona's mayor Ada Colau on September 28 called for European Union mediation in the standoff over Catalonia's planned independence referendum in an opinion piece in Britain's Guardian daily. Puigdemont has accused the European Union of "turning its back" on Catalonia in its conflict with Spain's central government.

The move follows a week of turmoil in the Catalan capital of Barcelona as the Spanish government continues its crackdown on the state's attempts to hold an independence referendum this coming weekend.

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