Barcelona, Spain, Feb 16 (efe-epa).- A Spanish rapper facing prison for charges of exalting terrorism and slandering the monarchy was detained by police Tuesday a day after he and dozens of supporters barricaded themselves inside a university building in the country’s northeast.
Pablo Hasel — real name Pablo Rivadulla — was handed a two-year prison sentence and fined nearly 30,000 euros by Spain’s National Court in 2018 after judges found him guilty of glorifying the now-defunct Basque terrorist group Eta and slandering the royal family, the police and the court system in a series of tweets and some of his lyrical content.
The sentence was reduced to nine months on appeal. Hasel had been due to hand himself over to authorities on Friday but on Monday he announced he had barricaded himself inside the Lleida university building to avoid arrest, warning in a tweet that police would come to “kidnap me and kidnap the freedom of expression from anti-fascists.”
The National Court on Monday refused to grant Hasel a suspended sentence, pointing to previous convictions.
The jailing of Hasel has reopened the debate on the limits of freedom of expression in Spain and, in particular, the so-called gag law used to underpin the charges against the artist.
The Socialist-led coalition government of prime minister Pedro Sánchez has said it would review the penalties for artists whose work is found to insult or incite violence against state institutions.
Some 200 Spanish artists, including actor Javier Bardem and director Pedro Almodóvar, have signed an open letter opposing Hasel’s sentence, which has also faced criticism from organizations such as Amnesty International. EFE-EPA