ARMED Spanish military police have raided print shops in Catalonia looking for material related to the October 1 independence referendum.

They seized more than 100,000 posters in a dramatic day in which they also entered several newspaper offices, and warned editors they will face criminal charges if they publish referendum adverts in their papers or online.

As tensions rose in Catalan cities, judges also suspended political events there, in the Basque country and in Madrid. Thursday’s official launch of the indyref campaign, which attracted 9000 people, is also under formal investigation by prosecutors.

The raids came after the Spanish finance minister said the Madrid government would ensure that public money from the wealthy state was not used on the referendum.

Cristobal Montoro said central government would take over payments for essential services and would give Catalan officials 48 hours to comply with a new system of examining public payments to ensure public cash was not being used on what he called the “illegal vote”.

Montoro tried to justify the measures, saying they would ensure budgetary stability in Catalonia and would defend Spain’s legal order.

The measures would be implemented in two days if the cabinet of Catalan president Carles Puigdemont had not backed down from its referendum challenge.

Catalan mayors are also being summoned to court for supporting the vote, and they have been threatened with arrest if they do not comply.

Police have shut another indyref website after the official site was taken offline, although the Catalan government quickly opened a new one.

Despite this, international observers from a dozen countries continue to register to supervise the October 1 vote.

A group of Danish MPs yesterday wrote to the Spanish government expressing their “deep concern” for its latest actions and urging dialogue over the poll.

Earlier, Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy rejected a call by Catalan officials for negotiations on a poll, saying the law does not allow it.

Puigdemont and his cabinet, along with officials from the north-eastern state’s capital, Barcelona, wrote to Rajoy and King Felipe VI asking for fresh dialogue on holding the vote with Madrid’s permission.

Puigdemont and Barcelona mayor Ada Colau said Spain has launched “an offensive of repression without precedent”.

However, culture minister Inigo Mendez de Vigo said: “The prime minister can’t make something illegal into something legal.”

The central government said constitutional reform through a strong majority in the national parliament was the only avenue for a legal poll.

Madrid has rejected the unilateral vote planned for October 1, but separatist politicians launched the Yes campaign on Thursday as they press ahead with the campaign despite the threat of action by the country’s courts.

Joaquim Gómez Ribas, a Catalan journalist working in Scotland, told The National he thought the Catalan government would have contingency plans in place to ensure the poll goes ahead.

“I think the Catalan government had already thought this could happen and I think that it won’t affect the preparation for the referendum,” he said. “It is true that leaves much less capacity of movement to the Catalan government but they have already said that everything for the referendum is ready.

“The Catalan economy is based on a central tax collection made by the Spanish government who then sends money to the different autonomous communities to pay for basic services such as education, health or social services that are provided by the regional governments.

“The only difference now is that there is not going to be the intermediate state where the Catalan government intervene in where or what to spend the money on.”

He said that it was a further attack on the sovereignty of Catalonia, and added that it could backfire: “They are using fear as the only argument against independence, but I think this encourages more and more people to go to vote and to probably vote yes.”

“From what I sense in Catalan media, social media and friends and family, all these acts are just reaffirming the convictions of those who have decided to vote and vote yes, and it puts in a really difficult position those who still contend that the referendum and the Catalan government are the anti-democratic ones.”

In their letter, the Danish MPs said they do not understand why “there is no willingness [on the part of Madrid] to engage in a dialogue”.

They said: “In a democracy, threats and judiciary and legal responses are not the solution … Politicians, not judges or police forces, should primarily deal with political tensions in any European democratic country.”