Spanish rapper Valtonyc (real name Josep Miquel Arenas Beltrán) has been denied an appeal by the Constitutional Court for his three-and-a-half year prison sentence on charges of “grave insults to the Crown”, “glorification of terrorism and humiliation of its victims” and “threats” in his songs. This was the last opportunity the artist had to appeal as the Supreme Court had denied a previous appeal, reported La Vanguardia on 12 May 2018.
Valtonyc said in a statement on his Twitter account that his case is “a historical fact, given that he is the first musician to enter prison in the Spanish State condemned solely by the lyrics of his songs.” Additionally, because he was convicted under anti terrorist laws, he won’t be eligible for early release.
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.
Freemuse calls on the Spanish authorities to drop all charges against Valtonyc and all other musicians currently facing charges for their musical expressions.
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.