Julia Natri & Cristina Gironès

January 2021 Pablo Hasél, a rapper, has been condemned to two years and a day in jail for praising terrorism, and for slandering Spanish state and royal institutions in his songs. On the same day as Pablo Hasél was ordered to report to prison, the president of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), Robert Spano, issued a warning to Spain on the rights in cases of criticism of “public personas”. Moreover, the Freemuse report stated that Spain was the country in the world with more imprisoned artists: 14 in 2020 (up to 71 worldwide). This organisation is European-based and documents the violations to the right to freedom of artistic expression.

In March 2015, two laws reforming the criminal code were passed in Spain, despite being heavily criticized by UN experts for endangering the freedom of speech of Spanish citizens. They broadened the scopes of actions considered as “glorification or justification of terrorism”, leading to a higher number of persons being convicted under these terms. Amnesty International and Freemuse, amongst other organisations, have raised their concerns on the problems these reforms lead to when it comes to freedom of speech and protection of human rights in general.

In the mainstream media coverage of this case in English speaking media targeting an international audience, our deliberative issue analysis showed that media tend to concentrate on the facts and depicting the advancement of protests and announcements from different parties of the conflict (artists, lawyer of Pablo Hasél, international human organisations, Spanish government, etc.) It seems however that there is a lack of explaining the reasons ​why Spain has such a high number of artists imprisoned​, as well as a more in depth explanation on how the Spanish government uses the counterterrorism law to imprison artists.

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