A court in Ghent, Belgium ruled on 17 September 2018 there will be no extradition of Spanish rapper Valtonyc (real name Josep Miquel Arenas Beltrán), who was sentenced to jail in Spain for ‘glorifying terrorism’, Associated Press reported.
The rapper’s lawyer Simon Bekaert told reporters the judge said “there is no terrorism involved, so there is no question of a crime according to Belgain law”. The judge discarded all three charges, he said.
Valtonyc fled from Spain in May when he was supposed to turn himself over to authorities to serve three-and-a-half years behind bars after he was found guilty of glorifying terrorism, insulting the Spanish royal family and issuing threats in his lyrics. A European arrest warrant was issued.
AFP reported the 24-year-old was “tracked down after he published a blurry photograph on his Twitter account showing a canal and a red and white tourist boat typical of Ghent, in northwestern Belgium.”
Freemuse continues to call on Spanish authorities to drop all charges against Valtonyc and all other musicians currently facing charges for their musical expressions.
After the 2015 legislative amendments to the Law on Public Security and Criminal Law, there has been an increase in the number of trials and imprisonments of artists relating to the “glorification of terrorism” and “humiliation of terrorist victims” in Spain.
In December 2017, 12 members of rap group La Insurgencia were sentenced to two years and one day in prison, a fine of 4,500 euros and a ban from standing for public office for nine years each on the charge of “supporting terrorism” in their lyrics.
Spain ranked first as the country that violated the freedom of musical expression the most in 2017 in Freemuse’s global monitoring of artistic freedom violations. For additional information on this silencing environment for rappers in Spain and wider issues of artistic freedom of expression worldwide, read Freemuse’s newly published The State of Artistic Freedom 2018 report.