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Spanish rapper flees country to avoid prison for lyrics praising terrorism

Josep Miquel Arenas, better known as Valtonyc, was due to report to the penitentiary on Thursday

Valtonyc during a concert at Modelo penitentiary.
Valtonyc during a concert at Modelo penitentiary.

Spanish rapper Josep Miquel Arenas, known by his artistic name Valtonyc, has fled Spain to avoid a three-and-a-half-year prison term for glorifying terrorism and insulting the Crown in a series of song lyrics. The artist, who is from Mallorca, was supposed to report to prison authorities on Thursday.

On May 14, Spain’s High Court, the Audiencia Nacional, gave Valtonyc 10 days to voluntarily turn himself in to prison authorities and serve his sentence after the rapper lost his appeal in the Supreme Court.

Go kill a civil guard tonight; go to another town where there are civil guards and kill one

Valtonyc

“Tomorrow is the day. Tomorrow they are going to knock down the door of my house and put me in jail. For a few songs,” he wrote in a message posted on Twitter on Wednesday.

“Tomorrow Spain is going to make a fool of itself, again. I am not going to make it easy for them. Disobedience is legitimate and an obligation in the face of this fascist state. No-one is giving up,” he added.

Last Friday, at a concert, Valtonyc told his audience: “Go kill a fucking civil guard tonight; go to another town where there are civil guards and kill one.” These statements have since been brought to the attention of Spanish prosecutors.

Valtonyc was sentenced by the High Court in February 2017 to three and a half years in prison for glorifying terrorism, for slander against the Crown, and for issuing threats in his music. The rapper appealed to the Supreme Court a year later, arguing that he was protected by his right to freedom of expression and artistic creation, and that rap music is known for its “extreme, provocative, allegorical and symbolic” lyrics.

Tomorrow they are going to knock down the door of my house and put me in jail. For a few songs

Valtonyc

But the court rejected this defense and ruled that the songs included expressions “in support and in praise” of the terrorist organizations First of October Anti-Fascist Resistance Groups, known as GRAPO, and the now-disbanded Basque group ETA. The songs were also found to have insulted Spain’s King Felipe VI and his family, and to contain personal threats against Jorge Campos, president of the right-wing Spanish foundation Círculo Balear.

Campos took Valtonyc to court over his song “Circo Balear” in August 2012, claiming that it threatened him and members of his organization, and the rapper was ordered to pay €3,000 in damages.

Not the only case

EL PAIS

In March, the Spanish rapper Rivadulla, known by the artistic name of Pablo Hásel, was also sentenced to two years and one day in prison for repeatedly praising terrorism, and for slandering the Spanish state and royal institutions.

In its annual report on the state of human rights in countries across the world, Amnesty International criticized Spain for making excessive terrorism allegations against people expressing opinions.

According to the report: “Authorities pressed criminal charges against people who had expressed opinions that did not constitute incitement to a terrorism-related offense and fell within the permissible forms of expression under international human rights law.”

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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