BARCELONA, Spain (Reuters) – Thousands of protesters took over some of Barcelona’s streets on Tuesday evening to demand the release of a rapper arrested by Spanish police after being given a jail sentence on charges of glorifying terrorism and insulting royalty in his songs.
Dozens of police stormed Lleida university in northeastern Spain earlier in the day and arrested rapper Pablo Hasel after he had barricaded himself there. Hasel, known for his radical leftist views, missed a deadline last Friday to surrender to police to serve a nine-month jail term handed down in 2018 – a sentence that caused an uproar in Spain and led the government to announce it would make free speech laws less restrictive.
Hasel was convicted over lyrics and tweets that included references to the Basque separatist paramilitary group ETA, compared Spanish judges to Nazis and called former king Juan Carlos a mafia boss.
After Hasel’s arrest, Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo told reporters that jailing people over matters of freedom of speech should not happen in a democracy like Spain. Reuters News