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Spain claims Russian meddling in Catalan crisis

Madrid,Nov 14:-- Similar to alleged meddling in last year’s U.S. presidential election, Spain warned the European Union on Monday of how Russia may be working to fuel the Catalan crisis.


“I am going to put it on record that in other areas [such as Catalonia], not only in the community to our East, situations of manipulation and disinformation are arising,” Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis told reporters in Brussels before entering an EU meeting on defense.


Dastis said data shows how significant amounts of Internet traffic leading up to the controversial Oct. 1 independence referendum came from networks located in Russia and other countries.


Official probes and reporting in the U.S. found social media disinformation and fake news stories originating from Russia ahead of the November 2016 election.


Dastis added that Julian Assange, the fugitive founder of Wikileaks, is also trying to interfere. Assange has been outspoken in support of Catalan independence on Twitter and was reported to have held a meeting with an important pro-independence figure on Nov. 9.


“Many indicators point to the fact that this man and others are trying to intervene, manipulate, and affect what should be a natural democratic development in Catalonia,” he added.


At Monday’s meeting, the EU took a significant step to strengthen post-Brexit security ties, with 23 member states signing a landmark agreement to boost defense cooperation. It is part of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) deal, which could be formally launched in December.

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