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Spain warns EU about cyber-meddling suspicions in Catalonia

AP  |  Brussels 

today warned its European Union partners about a disinformation campaign aimed at destabilising its volatile northeast region of Catalonia, which Madrid claims appears to be coming from

Spanish Defense Minister Maria Dolores de Cospedal told reporters that "many of the actions come from Russian territory," but that it's not yet possible to determine what their exact source is or if the Russian is involved.

She said some of them are "repeated from Venezuelan territory."

The Spanish took control of Catalonia's powers and called a snap regional for December 21, after the Catalan held a banned independence referendum on October 1.

Several regional government ministers have been jailed, and the region's ousted leader, Carles Puigdemont, is in Brussels with four associates fighting extradition to for trial. They could face up to 30 years in prison on charges of rebellion, sedition and extortion.

De Cospedal declined to guess what impact the disinformation might be having on the campaign or how big the fake campaign might be.

She said the number "is changing every day. The figure cannot be specified."

Earlier, referring to a recent London meeting between WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and a prominent Catalan pro- independence figure, Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said there were signs that Assange and others "are trying to interfere and manipulate" amid the Catalonia crisis.

said last week that the signs don't necessarily mean the Russian government is involved, and it hasn't made public any evidence to back the interference claim.

The EU's strategic communications unit, the East StratCom Task Force, has recently reported several instances of disinformation coming from Russian outlets linked to the Kremlin.

An analysis last month on the Russian talk show Vesti Nedeli said that the view from some Russian television stations is that Europe is "falling apart" and that Spain is being compared to Ukraine, whose Crimean Peninsula was annexed by Russian troops in 2014.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, November 13 2017. 22:07 IST