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Catalan protesters inspired by Hong Kong

MADRID: From blocking airports to using encrypted messaging apps, Catalan separatists protesting against the jailing of nine of their leaders are copying tactics devised by pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

After Spain's Supreme Court last week sentenced nine Catalan leaders to prison terms of up to 13 years over a failed 2017 independence bid, 240,000 users of messaging app Telegram received a message urging them to head to Barcelona's El Prat airport, Spain's second busiest.

The goal according to the message - sent by a new anonymous separatist organisation called Democratic Tsunami - was to "paralyse" the airport, just as protesters did in Hong Kong last month. The app made it possible for protesters to download a boarding pass for an afternoon flight so that they could get through airport security checks.

While few managed to enter the terminal, some 10,000 people gathered outside, preventing airline crew from getting to work and forcing the cancellation of over 100 flights.

Ms Victoria Santos, 62, said last week at a protest in Barcelona: "Now people must be in the streets, all revolts start there, look at Hong Kong."

Catalan newspaper El Nacional columnist Jordi Barbeta wrote: "Hong Kong gave the example of how to give global attention to a local conflict."

Catalan separatist even used the same fliers handed out in Hong Kong, such as infographics on how to protect yourself from police water cannons. - AFP

WORLD