Spain Jails Separatists as Growth Forecast Lowered on Catalonia

Spain cut its economic growth forecast for 2018, acknowledging the impact of an escalating political crisis that led the National Court in Madrid to jail two leading Catalan separatists.

The Spanish economy will grow 2.3 percent next year instead of the 2.6 percent previously projected, the economy ministry said in an emailed statement just before midnight, citing the impact of the political standoff in Catalonia, which accounts for a fifth of Spain’s output.

Earlier Monday Judge Carmen Lamela ordered that Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, leaders of the two groups that have led the Catalan independence campaign, be jailed as a precautionary measure as she investigates potential sedition charges. Catalan Police Chief Josep Lluis Trapero, another subject of the probe, was told to surrender his passport and report back to the court in Madrid every two weeks.

“Sadly, we have political prisoners again,” Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said on Twitter. “They are trying to imprison ideas, but they make the need for freedom even greater.”

The Spanish state is turning up the pressure on the separatist leaders as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy tries to persuade Puigdemont to drop his push for independence. Rajoy has given Puigdemont until Thursday to withdraw his claim that Catalonia won the right to set up a new republic in the illegal referendum on Oct. 1. Unless he backs down, the Catalan leader risks seeing Madrid take direct control of the region.

Defense Minister Visits