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How Catalan protest tactics are inspired by Hong Kong

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

Shortly after Spain’s Supreme Court last Monday (Oct 14) sentenced nine Catalan leaders to prison terms of up to 13 years over their role in a failed 2017 independence bid, 240,000 users of Russian-designed 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 demonstrators did in Hong Kong in September.

The app made it possible for protesters to download a boarding pass for an afternoon flight so they could get through airport security checks.

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

In Hong Kong, activists bought plane tickets to enter the terminal.

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