GENT – A Belgian court on Tuesday again ruled that Spanish rapper Valtonik should not be extradited to Spain, where he was sentenced to prison on charges of writing texts praising terrorist groups and insulting the royal family.
The 28-year-old rapper, whose real name is Jose Miguel Arenas Beltran and who has been living in exile in Belgium since 2018, faces up to 3 and a half years in prison in Spain.
Francis Claris, Ghent’s prosecutor, told the Associated Press that the prosecutor’s office now has 24 hours to decide whether to appeal the decision to Belgium’s Supreme Court of Cassation. The ruling on Tuesday was the fourth time Spanish judicial authorities have denied extradition requests.
Clarice said the latest appeal was found to be “unfounded, which means extradition is impossible.”
The Valtonik case has become popular in Spain among organizations claiming that the Spanish authorities are fighting against freedom of speech. The singer and songwriter from Palma de Mallorca was sentenced to prison for songs he wrote at the age of 18 that were believed to have praised terrorist groups, threatened Spanish politicians with reprisals and insulted the royal family.
During trials in Spain, courts rejected Arenas’ argument that rap lyrics should be provocative and should be protected by freedom of speech laws.
Human rights organizations and activists have cited Valtonich’s case as an example in the wider legal and political dispute over freedom of expression, blaming the prosecutor’s office’s excessive use of the criminal code to punish those who “glorify terrorism” or insult the Crown.
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