A group of 15 MEPs have called on Spain’s new interior minister for permission to visit the imprisoned Catalan pro-independence leaders. In a letter sent to Fernando Grande-Marlaska, the minister in charge of home affairs in Pedro Sánchez’s new cabinet, parliamentarians from a variety of political groups in Brussels asked to visit the prisoners “without impediment” and bearing in mind their status as “elected representatives of the European Union.”

The letter comes after a previous delegation of seven MEPs applied for permission to visit the Soto del Real, Alcalá-Meco and Estremera prisons in December but received no answer from the previous Spanish government. This group of 15 MEPs now wants the new interior minister to oversee their application to visit the jails “so as to find out first-hand the situation of the imprisoned politicians and social leaders.”

Among the signatories are the Catalan MEPs Jordi Solé and Josep Maria-Terricabras (ERC), Ramon Tremosa (PDECat) and Ernest Urtasun (ICV), as well as Basque MEP Izaskun Bilbao (PNB), Galicians Ana Miranda (BNG) and Lidia Senra (Alternativa Galega), along with European representatives from a variety of parties and countries, such as Ireland, Germany, France, the UK, Portugal, Belgium and Slovenia.

Report on access to European prisons

At the same time, Solé, Terricabras and Tremosa sent a written question to the European Commission and Council bringing the issue to their attention and asking the EU institutions whether they consider “preventing” members of the European Parliament from visiting European citizens is “a limitation on their work and duties as elected representatives.” The Catalan MEPs also ask if the institutions plan “any action in relation to member states to guarantee that MEPs have access to European prisons without limitations.”

Meanwhile, in a report published on Thursday, some 40 EU parliamentarians in the EU-Catalonia Dialogue Platform condemned Madrid’s refusal to allow access to the prisoners. In the report, the Platform mentions the case of the seven MEPs who were denied access to the Estremera prison in December “despite following the correct protocol.”

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