Police have finally arrested Spanish rapper Pablo Hasel, who barricaded himself in a university with his supporters after being charged with insulting the royal family, state institutions, and glorifying terrorism.
The 32-year-old musician, whose real name is Pablo Rivadulla Duro, was hauled in by police from the University of Lleida in the Spanish region of Catalonia on Tuesday.
Videos show Lleida-born Hasel with dozens of supporters, who entered the university on Monday and could be seen chanting for his freedom and forming a protective ring around the rapper, before he was eventually led away to a police car.
Other footage shows riot gear-clad officers facing a barrage of fire extinguisher foam and being hit with chairs and other objects as they climb a staircase inside the university.
Hasel is to serve a nine-month reduced sentence handed to him in 2018 after he called Spain’s disgraced former king, Juan Carlos – who fled to Abu Dhabi amid corruption allegations – a thief and a mafia boss.
The ruling by the Spanish High Court focused on a song shared on YouTube, as well as 64 tweets, one of which praised Spanish Maoist terrorist group GRAPO.
In 2014, Hasel was found guilty of voicing his support for Basque separatist terrorist group ETA, but his sentence was suspended in 2019.
Before his arrest, the musician said he would go to prison “with my head held high” due to his opposition to Spain’s restrictive free speech laws.
The government recently said that it would reduce the punishment for “crimes of expression,” including the glorification of terrorism, hate speech, and insulting religion and the monarchy.
Around 200 artists have signed a petition against Hasel’s imprisonment, including Spanish film director Pedro Almodóvar and Spanish actor Javier Bardem.
Amnesty International in Spain called his arrest “terrible news” for freedom of expression in the country, and described it as an outrage.
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