Spain’s Freedom of Speech on Life Support as Anti-Monarchist Pablo Hasél Arrested

This February 15, after the expiration of the deadline established by the National Court for rapper Pablo Hasél to enter prison voluntarily, the young Spaniard decided to take shelter with a group of supporters at the University of Lleida, in Catalonia. This didn’t prevent his arrest today by the Catalan police forces. Hasél denounced the process as an attack on freedom of expression, and social media users commented that Spain’s freedom of speech had entered an intensive care unit (ICU).

Around 250 police officers (Mossos d’Esquadra) entered the university facilities to detain Hasél. The National High Court had condemned the rapper for the crimes of “glorifying terrorism and insulting the monarchy,” and sentenced him to nine months in prison.

RELATED CONTENT: Spain: Anti-Monarchist Rapper Pablo Hasél Barricades Himself in at University of Lleida to Avoid Imprisonment

After the arrest warrant was issued against Hasél, the police forces prepared to detain him and bring him in. Hundreds of supporters gathered and defended the Catalan rapper until the moment of his arrest by the autonomous police of Catalonia.

Raising his voice
The Catalan rapper defended his thoughts and ideals until the moment of his arrest. His last words before entering the police car were “death to the fascist state.”

RELATED CONTENT: Streets Blocked in Madrid by Demonstrators Supporting Anti-Monarchist Rapper Pablo Hasél

Social media reactions
Hundreds of users showed solidarity with Hasél through social media networks. Most were critical of the state, labeling the sentence as an attack against freedom of speech and an undemocratic practice.

Democratic anomaly?
For its part, the Spanish political party Podemos—part of the government coalition— at a press conference announced that they will present, in the next few hours, a petition requesting a pardon for Pablo Hasél:

“Because we understand that it cannot be standard procedure in a democracy that, while the investigation for corruption of the monarchy is closed, they imprison those who criticize them in their songs. It cannot be standard procedure in a democracy that, while there are demonstrations permitted in which Nazism and the Holocaust are glorified, there is someone in prison for singing that the Bourbon [king] is a thief; and it seems that it is not standard procedure in a democracy for Spain to be the only country in Europe, with the exception of Turkey, that has a rapper in jail.”

Podemos’ statement pointed out that the situation is highly undemocratic.

Spain: country with the highest number of imprisoned artists worldwide
“Today we have a phenomenon of censorship in society. It is easier for people to have a voice, and for opinions of all kinds to reach immediately and everywhere,” commented the writer and journalist Nacho Carretero.

In 2019, fourteen artists were detained in Spain for their public statements, reportedly more arrests than any other country.

Alberto González Pulido, coordinator of an NGO that consults the United Nations, Freemuse, reported that in 2019 artistic freedom was restricted up to 711 times in 93 different countries, and that “Spain is the country with the most prison sentences in the world.”


Featured image: Spain’s Freedom of Speech in ICU: Anti-monarchist Pablo Hasél arrested. Photo courtesy of Twitter.


Translation: Orinoco Tribune


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