CATALONIA’s human rights ombudsman has launched an investigation into the detention of three members of the grassroots Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDR) network by Spain’s national police.

The three were detained on Tuesday in connection with a demonstration against a police march in Barcelona in September.

They were held in custody for 24 hours and released on Wednesday.

Rafael Ribo will be considering a potential violation of their right to defence, after it emerged that the national police appeared to have acted without input from their Catalan counterparts, the Mossos d’Esquadra.

The CDRs have played a crucial role in the Catalan independence movement, managing to mobilise tens of thousands of people to peaceful demonstrations and rallies in Barcelona and beyond since last year’s indyref.

In November 2017 they led a general strike that paralysed road and public transport systems.

Professor Clara Ponsati, meanwhile, the St Andrews academic and Catalonia’s former education minister, has urged people to join the Council of the Republic, the body that was set up by exiled former president Carles Puigdemont and other independence supporters, to further the mandate of the October 2017 referendum.

Ponsati, who is living in Scotland, tweeted: “The @CatalanCouncil will defend the Republican mandate of the First of October from abroad. We are and will be immune to the repression and blackmail of the Kingdom of Spain. We have a lot of work and everyone is needed.”

Her remarks came as she took part in a meeting by video link with Puigdemont and two other exiled ministers in Belgium.

In response, a tweet from Alexis Tudela, said: “For me, Clara Ponsati is a guarantee of honesty. If she supports it, I have no doubt. Surely no one else now offers me more confidence.”

Jordi Deleixample added: “Honourable board member @ClaraPonsati, I will register for you … but please let us know if we need to unsubscribe.”

Elsewhere, Catalan President Quim Torra has urged Catalans, Basques and Galicians to “join forces” to defend their joint interests in next year’s European elections.

During a visit to the Basque Country, he launched a “democratic front” to defend the freedoms of the three autonomous regions, “before a regression of the Spanish state that affects us all”.

Torra said: “It is on the path of recovering sovereignty where Catalonia and the Basque Country can join forces and defeat the authoritarianism and imposition that comes from Spain.

“Can we take the free voice of peoples in the States Europe?

“Can we make the clamour of sovereignty and democracy heard in the European Parliament?

“Together we are stronger,” the president added.

“We can find us Basques, Catalans, Galicians, Majorcans and Valencians and advance all at once to make our voices heard in the European Union.”

In his presentation, he said Catalonia was “at the gates of an independent republic”, and added: “The right to self-determination is not negotiable, since it is a right of the people.”