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PEN International visits jailed Catalan civil society leaders

Thousands of Catalonian people call for the Independence of Catalonia in a demonstration in Brussels,Belgium, 7 December 2017
Thousands of Catalonian people call for the Independence of Catalonia in a demonstration in Brussels,Belgium, 7 December 2017

Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

This statement was originally published on pen-international.org on 8 August 2018.

On 7 August 2018, Carles Torner, Executive Director of PEN International, visited civil society leaders Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, currently held in Lledoners prison near Barcelona, at the request of a family member. They have been held in pre-trial detention since 16 October 2017 on charges of sedition and rebellion, which carry sentences of up to 10 and 30 years in prison.

PEN International has expressed concern about the use of judicial measures to clamp down on democratic debate in Catalonia and the use, in some cases, of pre-trial detention for criminal charges for non-violent expression of dissenting political opinion. Most recently, PEN International condemned the Spanish Supreme Tribunal's decision to confirm the conviction of rapper Valtònyc to three and a half years of imprisonment as well as the chilling effect of the so-called 'gag law' on artistic freedom.

Together with other human rights organisations, PEN International believes that the ongoing pre-trial detentions of Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez are an excessive and disproportionate restriction on their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. PEN International calls on Spanish authorities to drop the charges of sedition and rebellion against them and to put an immediate end to their pre-trial detention.

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