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The witch hunt undertaken by Spain's Treasury minister, Cristóbal Monto, against media companies including Mediapro and the newspaper Ara, and professionals believed to be close to the independence movement, has now arrived to the world of universities. The dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Barcelona, Xavier Pons, has called on the rector, Joan Elias, to denounce "any attack, from any source, against academic and research freedom", according to a letter El Nacional has had access to.

Pons makes reference to the order from the Treasury ministry to the comptroller of Catalonia to provide details of a number of payments made since 2015. A number of people, entities and publications related to science, "part of the Catalan research community", are included. The full letter (in Catalan) is below.

The ministry asks for information about research projects, scholarships and books which might have received funding from the Catalan government, specifically from the Institute of Self-governance Studies. Also mentioned are beneficiaries of scholarships and grants and winners of the biennial Josep Maria Vilaseca i Marcet prize for studies on political autonomy and federalism. Similarly listed are seminars, conferences and articles published in prestitigious scientific journals.

Curtesa de mires

In his message to the rector, Pons argues that "scientific progress inavoidably requires freedom of research to be able to create, transmit and transfer knowledge; and that this freedom shouldn't be, in any case, conditional on, limited by or submitted to political considerations". Researchers, he adds, cannot work affected by "actions which denote shortsightedness and a biased perspective".

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