Issued on: 23/02/2021 – 11:13

Protesters in Barcelona clashed with police for a seventh consecutive night on Monday over the imprisonment of rapper Pablo Hasel.


After a peaceful gathering punctuated with cries of “Freedom for Pablo Hasel”, the demonstrators marched through the heart of Barcelona to the national police headquarters, where some threw bottles and other objects at vehicles protecting the building, television images showed.

The protesters then took to other streets, where they set rubbish bins alight.

“Groups of rioters are setting fire to the barricades… and throwing objects at neighbours who complain about their attitude,” the Mossos d’Esquadra, Catalonia‘s police force, posted to Twitter on Monday.

Known for his hard-left views, Hasel was handed a nine-month sentence over tweets glorifying terrorism and videos inciting violence. The court ruling said freedom of expression could not be used “as a ‘blank cheque’ to praise the perpetrators of terrorism”.

He was also fined about €30,000 for insults, libel and slander for tweets likening former king Juan Carlos I to a mafia boss and accusing police of torturing and killing demonstrators and migrants.

The rapper’s case has become a cause celebre among campaigners, who say that jailing him is a disproportionate response and a dangerous assault on free speech.

The demonstrations have continued since last Tuesday, when police forced their way past barricades at the Catalan university where Hasel and his supporters were holed up to arrest him. Police say 109 demonstrators have been detained in the region over that time.

Monday’s protest, on a rainy night in Spain‘s second largest city, attracted fewer people and spurred less violent clashes than the previous nights’ gatherings.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)