Rapper Pablo Hasel after being one year in prison: “They won’t bring me to my knees”

He was found guilty of glorifying terrorism and slandering the monarchy in his songs by the Spanish judiciary

VilaWeb
VilaWeb / Catalan News Agency
16.02.2022 - 08:28
Actualització: 16.02.2022 - 09:28

On 16 February 2021, rapper Pablo Hasel was arrested by the police after barricading himself inside the University of Lleida building, in western Catalonia. Found guilty of glorifying terrorism and slandering the monarchy in his songs and Tweets by the Spanish judiciary, this incident set off a wave of nightly protests in Barcelona and other cities across the country, many of which descended into violent clashes between demonstrators and police and lasted for over a week.

“They won’t bring me to my knees,” Hasel said in an exclusive interview with the Catalan News Agency a year after his arrest, adding that he was “more eager to fight and stronger” than ever. The musician explained that he has refused to take part in penitentiary programs that would reduce his sentence as they would entail an admission of guilt, something Hasel refuses, describing it as “the goal of repression.”

“Denouncing the situation from exile is useful,” he said in a clear allusion to Mallorcan rapper Josep Miquel Arenas, known as Valtònyc, who is fighting Spain’s attempts to extradite him from Belgium after being found guilty in 2018 of similar crimes. “But it is also necessary to do so from here. In fact, this combination is key to unmasking the state’s fake democracy.”

Fake politicians

As for the Catalan Esquerra-Junts per Catalunya coalition government and the anti-austerity Unidas Podemos party, both of which called for his release, Hasel had no kind words. “They said they wanted to help me, but in a prison controlled by them, they’ve made it even more difficult for me,” he said. Hasel is currently being held in the Centre Penitenciari de Ponent prison managed by the Catalan government. “I spent almost five months in veiled isolation,” he said, calling the ERC and JxCat politicians who have visited him behind bars “fake.”

And although Podemos formally requested pardons for both Hasel and Valtònyc, arguing that they had been “unjustly convicted of crimes that violate the right to freedom of expression,” and sought out to repeal Spain’s lèse-majesté law, the imprisoned rapper maintained that the Spanish coalition cabinet’s junior partner had actually failed to adequately pressure the government into changing it and that there were nowmore “repressive laws” than before.

“In order to stop the protests, they told people they’d free me,” he said. “I’m still here a year later.” Because of this, Hasel believes Podemos has “not been keeping their promises” and that only pressure from the people will bring about change. Regarding the National Court’s decision not to grant him a pardon as also requested by the Catalan Academy of Music on the grounds of his “antisocial attitude,” Hasel argued that it was the court, in fact, that was “antisocial.” According to him, there are no “truly progressive” judges in Spain, making it more difficult for him to be pardoned.

The musician claimed that most of the material damage to the University of Lleida that occurred during his arrest was, in fact, caused by the Mossos: “Nothing would have happened if they hadn’t come to imprison me unfairly.” Hasel also lamented the ongoing investigations into people that protested his arrest.

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