Clara Ponsati was applauded at SNP conference after declaring that a referendum is “never illegal” in a democracy.
The former Catalan minister, who is fighting extradition to Spain, argued that the referendum held in her homeland was lawful.
Appearing at a SNP fringe event organised by Young Scots for Independence, Professor Ponsati condemned the Spanish authorities for ignoring Catalan’s right to self-determination.
Speaking about last years Catalonian referendum held without Madrid’s permission, the St Andrews University academic said it was “not illegal.”
Her declaration was greeted with an outbreak of applause, before she added: “A referendum is never illegal in a democracy and it is not illegal even in Spain.
“It was not an agreed referendum. That is true. We could not manage an agreement with the Spanish authorities to organise an agreed referendum like the one you had about your own independence.
“The Catalan people have been fighting for self-determination actively and having substantial electoral support for the last 10-years. The movement has picked up a lot in the last five years.
“But all along there was a demand for an agreement on a referendum. And the Spanish authorities have always chosen to ignore it.
“So it was the duty of the Catalan parliament that had a mandate for independence to organise a referendum. The voters have given us a mandate we werre obliged to do it. Besides, it is not illegal. We have done nothing illegal. The Spanish authorities have manipulated the judiciary, manipulated the reading of the law, have manipulated the facts and they have opened these charges that are totally, totally illegal. But what is illegal is what the judiciary are doing in Spain right now.”
Professor Ponsati was appearing with her lawyer Aamer Anwar, who said the fighting fund for the legal action against her extradition had reached £270,000. Delegates were asked to help raise an additional £230,000.
The academic is fighting charges of “violent rebellion and misappropriation of public funds” over her role in Catalonia’s controversial independence referendum last year.
Mr Anwar described the charges as “a grotesque distortion of truth”.