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Spain: Convicted rapper in prominent ‘gag law’ case arrested


LLEIDA, Spain (AP) – A 24-hour standoff between police and a rapper barricaded with dozens of his supporters in a university ended Tuesday with anti-riot officers arresting the artist.

Pablo Hasél was escorted by riot police out of Lleida University’s rectorate building, in the northeastern Catalonia region, where he and over 50 supporters had locked themselves in since mid-Monday.

It was the rapper’s latest effort to resist imprisonment and draw attention to what he portrays as a campaign for free speech. The rapper has been sentenced to 9 months in prison for insulting the monarchy and praising terrorism.

“We will win, they will not bend us with all their repression, never!” the 32-year-old rapper said as he passed TV news cameras.

The case of Hasél, whose real name is Pablo Rivadulla Duró, has drawn increasing attention in Spain and has been linked to the government’s sudden announcement that it is changing a national law that is deemed to curtail freedom of expression.

Over 200 artists, including film director Pedro Almodóvar and actor Javier Bardem, signed a petition last week in support of the rapper.

Spain’s left-wing coalition government unexpectedly announced last week that it would make changes to the country’s criminal code to eliminate prison terms for offenses involving freedom of expression. It did not specifically mention Hasél or set a timetable for the changes.

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