Spain: Rapper sentenced to prison for insulting the king. He barricaded himself at the university

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Spain: Rapper sentenced to prison for insulting the king. He barricaded himself at the university

Rapper Pablo Hasel, 33, refuses to surrender to police

Catalan rapper Pablo Hasel, sentenced to prison for insulting the king and the police in his tweets and lyrics, refuses to give up. He barricaded himself in the university building and said that law enforcement officers would have to detain him by force.

Hasel was sentenced to nine months in prison for approving terrorism and defaming the crown and Spanish government institutions. In addition to verbal attacks against the Spanish crown, the rapper criticized the actions of the police during the suppression of demonstrations for independence in Catalonia in 2019.

Following the sentencing, authorities gave the musician until last Friday to surrender to police. However, on Monday he walked into a university building in Lleida, northeastern Catalonia, and tweeted a video showing the doors locked.

In the university building, the rapper is with supporters, there are about 20 of them. On February 12th, he tweeted his manifesto. “Today it is me, and tomorrow it may be you,” he wrote. “It's about our freedom.” “We don't know when they will come – in half an hour or in a few days,” the musician told Reuters.

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More than 200 Spanish artists stood up for the rapper, including the world-famous director Pedro Almodovar and actor Javier Bardem.

The Spanish government intends to mitigate sentences for speech-related crimes, including the glorification of terrorism, rhetoric of hatred, and insults to the monarchy and religion – when it comes to works of art and culture.

Spain: Rapper sentenced to prison for insulting the king. He barricaded himself at the university

There are murals in Barcelona in honor of Hansel

In one of his tweets, the rapper expresses support for the imprisoned Victoria Gomez of the banned Marxist group Grapo. In addition, he accuses the Spanish king Felipe VI and his father Juan Carlos, the former monarch, of several crimes.

The rapper's real name is Pablo Rivadulla Duro. He is a longtime supporter of Catalan independence.

In 2018, another rapper, Valtònyc, was sentenced under similar charges in Spain. He received three and a half years, but fled to Belgium. He is wanted in Spain.

Spain: problems with freedom of speech

James Badcock, Madrid

If the court's ruling against Pablo Hasel is finally implemented, he will become the most famous prisoner in Spain in recent years, who was sent to jail for expressing his opinion. But his business is one of many.

A few more artists and bloggers have been and are doing under the article on “glorifying terrorism”. The definition of this crime is so broad that even an attempt to justify a very long-standing terrorist attack could lead to an accusation.

In 2018, the Spanish Supreme Court upheld the verdict under this article against the rapper Valtònyc. In his texts, he threatened the king with a noose, and right-wing politicians with a bullet.

A year earlier, Twitter user Cassandra Vera had been sentenced to prison for joking about the 1973 murder of General Franco's assistant, Luis Carrero Blanco, by Basque militants. She was acquitted on appeal.

The authorities have pledged to review the law that passed these sentences. The definition of hate speech crimes may seem like a dry legal question. But the proliferation of graffiti supporting Hasel on the streets of Spanish cities shows that freedom is at stake for local youth.

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