The European Parliament has barred entry to exiled Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and his minister Toni Comín, both of whom were elected as MEPs in the recent EU election despite being exiled in Belgium.

European Parliament sources told the Catalan News Agency that Puigdemont and Comín might not be allowed inside until they have “effectively registered” as MEPs — a contentious requirement as the chamber’s legal team claims that pro-independence leaders must return to Spain and risk arrest in order to assume their posts.

The reaction among some MEPs and EU media and correspondents was automatic:

The news was also in Florian Eder’s Brussels Playbook, the influential morning bulletin from Politico.

Puigdemont’s reaction

Speaking in front of the chamber’s headquarters in Brussels, the former Catalan president dismissed the decision as a “dirty game.” “We hope the European Parliament doesn’t follow the same path as the Spanish authorities and their tendency to violate fundamental rights,” said Puigdemont.

According to Puigdemont, security guards at the EU Parliament gates were also instructed to prevent the entrance of Oriol Junqueras, the former Catalan vice president who was also elected MEP while imprisoned in Madrid.