Two protests were held on Saturday to protest against the Spanish National Court’s decision to give a ten-day period to the Catalan rapper Pablo Hasél to enter jail after being convicted for some lyrics and tweets criticizing Spain’s crown and institutions. Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Barcelona and Lleida and urged respect for democratic rights and freedoms. According to the anual report on artistic freedom by Freemuse, an organisation defending freedom of artistic expression, Spain is one of the most repressive countries with 14 cases in 2020, more than followers Iran or Turkey.

Spain’s National Court convicted Hasél to two years and nine months behind bars for two separate cases relating to his opinions in songs and tweets, which the judiciary called “glorification of terrorism” and “slander to the crown and the Spanish law enforcement”. In his lyrics, he called for the return of armed groups and his defense has always argued that this should be accepted within the freedom of speech because that was a mere opinion.

After the Spanish Supreme Court confirmed the latest verdict and the Constitutional Court dismissed an appeal for the latest case, the National Court gave him on Thursday ten days to enter prison – yet, Hasél has already said that he has no intention to do it voluntarily, but he will wait for his arrest and imprisonment.

In a Catalunya Ràdio station interview on Saturday, the musician ruled out going into exile, like another rapper, Valtònyc, did in 2018 after being sentenced to three and a half years behind bar for glorifying terrorism, slander and defamation against the crown over the content of his lyrics. “I will be more useful here in order to give voice to the message they want to silence and imprison,” Hasél said.

Valtònyc is meanwhile waiting for a final decision over his extradition to Spain from Belgian authorities.

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