An MEP from the Portuguese Socialist Party and former diplomat urged Spain to “immediately” release nine Catalan “political prisoners” currently jailed in the Madrid region for their role in the independence referendum.

Ana Gomes said in an interview with the Catalan news agency (ACN) that the situation of prisoners is “devastating” and negatively affects the image of Spain abroad.

“They did not use violence, violence was actually used against them, it’s definitely not good for Spain nor Europe to have political prisoners,” said Gomes.

Politically manipulated

“I always believed that the accusations against them, despite being filled by the prosecutor, are politically manipulated, politically based,” she added.

According to the former Portuguese diplomat, the prisoners’ situation should be a “relevant topic” in the upcoming discussions between Catalan president Quim Torra and Spanish president Pedro Sánchez.

Gómez said transferring the prisoners to jails closer to home, as already suggested by the new Spanish socialist government, is not enough.

Transfer not enough

“I hope this talks will mean more than just the transfer of prisoners. I hope they will mean their liberation. I hope to see it as an immediate consequence of the talks between Sánchez and Torra,” she insisted, referring to the upcoming meeting between the two leaders on July 9.

The Portuguese MEP said she welcomes “very much” the fact that Spain has now a Socialist government, but urged Sánchez to “be able to sit down with the Catalan leadership and work out a democratic solution.”

Ana Gomes pointed out that leaders should work to allow “Catalonia to feel comfortable and expressing its identity” either within the framework of the current constitution or promoting a new one.

Visit denied

The MEP regretted that she has not been able to visit prisoners in jail, although she requested it months ago. “It’s sad, I have insisted many times,” she explained. “It’s really weird that European authorities, in this case Spain, do not deliver on our request, my own and that from other colleagues, to go and visit the prisoners,” Gomes added.

Anna Gomes said she wants to visit former Minister of Foreign Affairs Raül Romeva. They worked intensively and had a “fruitful cooperation” in the European Parliament while Romeva was an MEP: “I want to visit him, he is my friend.”