The High Court in Catalonia confirmed to The Spain Report that the arrests of senior regional government officials and businessmen in Barcelona on Wednesday morning were not ordered either by the central government or the public prosecutor's office, which had no knowledge of the arrests prior to them taking place.

The investigating judge at Court Nº13 in Barcelona, Juan Antonio Ramírez Sunyer, ordered the National Police and Civil Guard, acting under his direct orders as judicial police, to carry out 41 searches and make the arrests.

"Six of the searches", said the High Court in Catalonia: "were at the headquarters of Catalan government departments" and were limited to "the offices of the persons being investigated".

Judge Ramírez also ordered searches at three companies and some private addresses.

The charges the judge is investigating stem from two private criminal complaints filed in February by the minority party VOX (0 MPs) and a lawyer, Miguel Durán, acting in a private capacity.

The same events were described in both complaints and ended up in Judge Ramírez's court.

"He got the case by following the normal assignment procedure", a spokeswoman for the High Court in Catalonia said, adding that another search at the headquarters of the radical-left party that supports the Catalan government, the CUP, was unrelated.

Mr. Durán and Vox had filed complaints because of the statements made by a former judge and former Republican Catalan Left (Esquerra, ERC) senator, Santiago Vidal, regarding the use of citizens' tax data by the Catalan government.

That investigation began in February, is ongoing, and the proceedings have been declared secret by the judge.

Vox leader Santiago Abascal declined to comment further on Wednesday's arrests, citing the secrecy of the investigation.

He tweeted a message to the Catalan First Minister, Carles Puigdemont, accusing him of being overly dramatic: "It wasn't Mariano Rajoy".

Before lunch, Mr. Puigdemont denounced that the central government had "de facto" created a state of exception and suspended home rule by ordering the arrests.

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias had said: "We are moving towards a situation in which there are going to be political prisoners in Spain".

The two leading separatist organisations, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òminum, called on thousands of their supporters to demonstrate outside the offices of the regional economy ministry in Barcelona.

ANC chairman Jordi Sánchez tweeted "the time has come" to "defend our institutions", later adding the central government "has declared war" because "we wanted to vote".

Republican Catalan Left (Esquerra, ERC) MPs walked out of Congress in Madrid. One Esquerra MP, Gabriel Rufián, angrily told Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy: "I demand you take your dirty hands off Catalan institutions".