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British newspaper The Guardian has published a letter signed by over 400 academics from universities around the world expressing their "grave concern" and support for the five Catalan law and political science specialists who are facing prison sentences of over two years after serving on the electoral commission for last year's Catalan independence referendum. Signatories include linguist and political analyst Noam Chomsky and former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.

The signatories, many of whom are themselves law and political science scholars, say they do not take a position on the independence of Catalonia, but are "indignant" about the prosecution of the electoral commission.

"It is probably the first time in the history of the EU that political scientists and lawyers are being threatened with a prison sentence for using their expertise to guarantee that a referendum is held in a fair and impartial way," the academics tell The Guardian.

Thus, in the letter, they demand "immediate removal of the threat of a prison sentence and the dropping of all criminal charges" against the five electoral commission members: academics Jordi Matas, Tània Verge, Marc Marsal and Josep Pagès, along with lawyer Marta Alsina.

This new declaration of solidarity comes on top of several already made, such as that of the American Political Science Association (APSA), which represents 11,000 political scientists, and that of the Political Studies Association of the United Kingdom (PSA), with 4,000 members.

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