A court in Madrid has sentenced Spanish rapper Pablo Hasel to two years in prison for glorifying terrorism and insulting the Spanish royal family. The case has sparked a debate about free speech in Spain.
The Spanish National Court handed rapper Pablo Hasel a two year jail sentence and fined him €24,300 ($30,000) on Friday for praising terror groups, inciting violence and insulting the Spanish Crown and state institutions.
The ruling said Hasel, whose real name is Pablo Rivadulla, made the offending statements on Twitter and in a song posted to YouTube.
It's the second time in as many weeks that a Spanish court has sent a rapper to prison.
Just a few days ago, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a rapper called Valtonyc, who was given a three-and-a-half year jail sentence for glorifying terrorism, insulting the Spanish royals and threatening politicians in his lyrics.
Supporters of Pablo Hasel gather outside court with a banner reading, 'Without freedom of speech there is no democracy'
In Hasel's case, the court said the 29-year-old had slandered the state's security forces and suggested a "need to go beyond using violent behavior, including resorting to terrorism."
As an example, the court held up one of the 64 tweets it examined, showing a photo of a GRAPO member with the caption: "Protests are necessary, but they are not enough, we support those who went further."
Read more: Is it illegal to call someone a Nazi?
The GRAPO, a militant Leninist Marxist group, was active in Spain the 1970s and 80s and is considered a terror organization by the European Union. Some of Hasel's tweets also praised Spanish separatist group ETA.
Free speech debate
Sentences of up to two years are often suspended in Spain, especially for first-time offenders. That's not an option for Hasel — in 2014, the rapper was sentenced to two years in prison for committing the same offenses. He avoided going to jail, but if his latest sentence is confirmed by the Supreme Court he will have to serve both terms behind bars.
The 29-year-old responded angrily to Friday's ruling on Twitter: "If I had said that Catalonians, immigrants, homosexuals, anti-fascists and homosexuals deserve to be bombed, I would have been protected by the fascist judges who convicted me," he wrote.
The recent trials of rappers in Spain have sparked a debate about freedom of speech in the country. Following Friday's ruling, a number of big names in Spain's rap scene, including Cesar Strawberry, ToteKing and Los Chikos del Maiz expressed their outrage on social media, saying they were "fed up" and "disgusted."
"There are no words left to describe the disgust we feel about the Spanish system," ToteKing said.
Another rapper, Toni el Sucio, had a more sarcastic response: "Another week of democracy and freedom in Spain."
nm/aw (AP, AFP, dpa, EFE)