Hundreds of protesters gathered in several cities in Spain on Saturday evening, particularly in Madrid and Barcelona, to demand the release of rapper Pablo Hassel, who has been imprisoned since mid-February, following his tweets.
32-year-old rapper Pablo Hassel was sentenced to nine months in prison after being convicted of glorifying terrorism after posting a tweet identifying King Juan Carlos I as a “gang leader” and the people involved in the attacks praised and accused the police of killing immigrants and protesters.
His suspension stimulated the debate on freedom of expression in Spain and exacerbated the differences within the ruling coalition between the socialists led by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and the extremist left Podemos party, which supports the demonstrations.
According to an AFP journalist, hundreds of people marched quietly in Madrid chanting “Freedom for Pablo Hassel” and “We are anti-fascist” before dispersing at the request of the police.
In Barcelona, the center of demonstrations in support of Catalan rappers, about a hundred people quietly walked behind a banner calling for “a full apology for Pablo Hassel”, according to an AFP journalist. This atmosphere of calm contrasted with the February movements, which were marked by violent clashes.
Authorities accuse Hassel, who refused to surrender and barricaded himself with his supporters at the University of Lleida before the security forces arrested him four days later, of promoting terrorism and insulting the royal family. He has been serving a nine-month prison sentence since mid-February.
The arrest of Hassel, who is from the Catalan side, sparked the outbreak of protests and demonstrations in several Spanish cities including Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Granada and others, accompanied by violent clashes between protesters and riot police of sabotage, violence and looting of deals causing injuries among security forces, some protesters and the arrest of a group of them.
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