Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has condemned the Spanish government for its grave violations of freedom of expression under the guise of national security following a conference on the topic in the European Parliament in Brussels this week.
Carthy said: “This week the Spanish authorities have issued a European and international arrest warrant for the Mallorcan rapper Valtonyc who has apparently left the state after being sentenced to more than three years in prison on terror charges – for his song lyrics.
“Valtonyc is one of many artists, musicians and social media users who have been accused of terrorism charges in the Spanish state in recent years, part of a trend that has significantly worsened since the introduction in 2015 of the so-called gag law (Law on the Protection of Public Security).
“Article 578 of the Spanish Penal Code, broadened under the gag law, allows fines, civil service bans, and jail terms of three years for ‘glorifying terrorism’ and ‘humiliating the victims of terrorism’ – purely in response to acts of political expression such as posting a Tweet online.
“In March, Amnesty International produced a scathing report of the Spanish authorities’ attacks on freedom of expression, saying the vaguely worded law had resulted in the ‘silencing of free speech and the crushing of artistic expression’. Their report found that 70 people have been convicted under this law in the last two years.
“The Spanish government has lost the plot. Sending musicians to jail for their song lyrics is the act of a dictatorship, not the act of a democracy in the heart of Europe.
“The European Commission needs to take Spain to task for this serious breach of fundamental rights – rights the European Union is supposed to be based on, which are enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty and which are legally binding on Member States.
“I have written to the European Commission to question its silence on Spanish repression of political expression, and to ask what action it intends to take in response to the serious breach of freedom of expression that is unfolding in the Spanish state.”