Demonstrators wave Catalan pro-independence flags in Barcelona on September 11, 2022. Journalist Lorena Sopena was attacked covering a pro-independence demonstration in the city on September 10. (AFP/Josep Lago)

Protesters attack freelance video journalist Lorena Sopena in Barcelona

Berlin, September 22, 2022 – Spanish authorities should swiftly and thoroughly investigate the attack on freelance video journalist Lorena Sopena, bring the perpetrators to justice, and ensure that journalists can cover protests safely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.

On September 10, Sopena was filming a Catalan pro-independence demonstration in Barcelona for Spanish public broadcaster RTVE when two protesters shouted insults at her, calling her “clown,” threatening her with legal action if she continued to film them, and hitting her in the face, according to her employer and the journalist, who spoke to CPJ by email.

Sopena fell after being hit several times, sustaining minor injuries to her face and neck for which she was treated in the emergency room. She said her camera was also damaged. 

“Spanish authorities must thoroughly investigate the recent attack on freelance video journalist Lorena Sopena and hold those responsible to account,” said Attila Mong, CPJ’s Europe representative. “Authorities must ensure that members of the press can safely cover events of public interest without fear that they will be harassed and assaulted.”

Following the attack, police identified the two perpetrators and opened a criminal investigation, Sopena said. No arrests have been made. CPJ emailed the press office of Mossos d’Esquadra, the autonomous police force of Catalonia, but did not receive any reply.