The imminent imprisonment of a musician to serve a sentence for praising terrorism and insulting Spanish institutions on social media has become a replacement source of friction within Spain’s center-left governing coalition.

In late January the rapper Pablo Hasel was ordered to report back to prison to serve nine months and at some point after the Supreme Court confirmed a conviction finding him guilty of glorifying terrorism and insulting the Crown and state institutions. After over 200 artists – including the filmmaker, Pedro Almodovar signed a petition defending the rapper, the govt on Monday announced that it’s planning reform to the criminal code that might eliminate prison terms for crimes involving freedom of expression.

The petition says that the imprisonment of Pablo Hasél makes the sword hanging over the heads of all public figures who dare to openly criticize the actions of state institutions all the more evident. We are aware that if we allow Pablo to be jailed, tomorrow they might come after anybody folks until they need managing to stifle any whisper of dissidence.  conviction is predicated on 64 messages he published on Twitter between 2014 and 2016 and a song he shared on YouTube. In one message from March 2016, he posted a photograph of Victoria Gomez, a member of a left-wing terrorist organization named GRAPO, with the message Demonstrations are necessary but not enough. allow us to support those that took things further.

He also accused King Felipe VI and his father Juan Carlos of several crimes, including homicide and embezzlement. He was sentenced in March 2018 to a jail term of two years and at some point, but an appeals judge later reduced the sentence to nine months and at some point because his messages did not pose a true risk to anyone. This decision was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court in May 2020.

Before this most up-to-date conviction, Hasél had been previously sentenced to prison on several occasions for crimes that include assaulting a journalist in 2016. In March 2015, he received another two-year prison sentence for writing and sharing songs that praised attacks administered by terrorist groups like the now-defunct Basque group ETA and Al-Qaeda, although he never served the jail term. This led judges to dismiss his petition to possess the new sentence suspended also. Neither the convict’s personal circumstances, nor the character of the facts, nor his behavior makes him deserving of such a benefit said the supreme court judges.

The Justice Ministry has not provided any details about its reform plans and a spokesperson said that there’s no date yet for a draft document. Yet almost simultaneously, the governing coalition’s junior partner, the leftist Unidas Podemos, was completing its own “bill for the protection of freedom of expression which is registered within the lower house of parliament on Tuesday. consistent with a source in Unidas Podemos, the party informed its partner, the Socialist Party (PSOE), about this initiative on Monday afternoon.

Unidas Podemos’s proposal probably goes further than what the PSOE has in mind. The leftist group wants to eliminate several crimes: insulting the Crown and state institutions, offending religious feelings, and glorifying terrorism would not be punishable by law.

The Justice Ministry, which is headed by Juan Carlos Campo of the PSOE, said instead that the reform would affect the crimes of glorifying terrorism and offending religious sentiment, but didn’t mention repealing them outright. Instead, it noted that because they affect fundamental rights, the chief must be especially careful with the reform proposals.

The ministry admitted that the broad definition of those crimes creates insecurity and said it’s difficult to work out where to draw the road between the exercise of a fundamental right like freedom of expression and allowing criminal behavior.

In its two-paragraph statement, the govt said that the Justice Ministry will propose a review of crimes involving excesses within the exercise of freedom of expression so that only acts that clearly create a risk to public order or encourage some quite violent conduct are going to be punishable through measures that deter but don’t deprive individuals of their freedom.

The text doesn’t expressly mention Pablo Hasel, whose real name is Pablo Rivadulla Duro, or other musicians trapped in similar legal proceedings within the recent past. But the connection is clear. The ministry’s proposal will consider that verbal excesses made as a part of artistic, cultural, or intellectual manifestations should remain outside the scope of criminal punishment, reads the note.

Unidas Podemos’ proposal to the Congress of Deputies on Tuesday introduces the topic by stating that several articles of Spain’s legal code are getting used to “criminalize behavior like sending messages through social media, singing rap, using a picture of Jesus and publishing it on social media, staging a performance to invite equal rights for ladies in society, criticizing the king or drowning out the anthem during a soccer stadium where the king and queen of Spain were present. These are articles of the legal code whose influence stems from the dictatorship and thus haven’t any place during a democratic and plural system.

The statement alludes to many cases that made media headlines in recent years, including another rapper named Valtonyc who was convicted of comparable crimes, a girl who tweeted jokes a few 1973 surprise attack, or a religious-style street procession that featured an outsized representation of female genitals rather than the standard depiction of Mary Mary.

Catalan Election

The inner battle within the chief to steer a reform project that resonates with progressive voters is happening as Catalonia enters the last week of campaigning before a regional election on Valentine’s Day. The PSOE is hoping to form significant gains within the nationalist-dominated parliament with its candidate, former health minister Salvador Illa.

The executive’s proposal is a component of a broader decision to reform the Spanish criminal code that also includes a review of the crime of sedition. Such a move could find yourself reducing the prison terms for convicted leaders of the 2017 unilateral secession attempt in Catalonia.