MADRID (AP) - Catalonia's leader says Spain's crackdown on a controversial independence referendum is boosting support for the vote in a way that European institutions won't be able to ignore.
Regional president Carles Puigdemont criticized the European Commission in an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press for turning "deaf ears" so far to Catalonia's desire to hold a vote.
Puigdemont also said that the Commission has turned its back on Catalans by not defending the fundamental rights of all European citizens during the controversial measures adopted by Spain's courts and central authorities to try to stop the vote.
In the interview four days ahead of the vote, Puigdemont also promised to turn the conflict with Spain into a European affair rather than a domestic issue.
No country, within or outside the European Union, has openly expressed support for the Oct. 1 referendum that Spain's conservative government sees as illegal.