Belgian Court Denies Extradition of Spanish Rapper

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GHENT, Belgium (AP) — A Belgian court ruled Tuesday once again that Spanish rapper Valtonyc should not be extradited to Spain, where he is accused of writing lyrics praising terror groups and insulting the royal family.

The 28-year-old rapper, whose real name is Jose Miguel Arenas Beltran and has lived in exile in Belgium since 2018, faces a total of three and a half years in prison in Spain.

The prosecutor’s office now has 24 hours to decide whether to appeal the decision to Belgium’s highest court, the Supreme Court, Ghent prosecutor Francis Clarysse told the Associated Press. Tuesday’s decision marks the fourth time that Spanish judicial authorities have denied extradition requests.

Clarysse said the final appeal was declared “unfounded, i.e. non-refundable”.

Spanish rapper Jose Miguel Arenas Beltran, also known as Valtonyc, awaits his court appointment at the courthouse in Ghent, Belgium, on September 15, 2020.

Valtonyc’s case has become popular with organizations in Spain who allege that Spanish authorities are taking drastic measures against freedom of expression.

The Palma de Mallorcan singer and composer was jailed at the age of 18 for songs he wrote that praised terrorist groups, threatened a Spanish politician, and insulted the royal family.

During his trials in Spain, courts rejected Arenas’ argument that the purpose of his rap lyrics was provocative and should be protected by freedom of speech laws.

Rights organizations and activists saw Valtonyc’s case as an example in the broader legal and political dispute over freedom of expression and slammed the way prosecutors used the criminal code to punish anyone who “glorifies terrorism” or insults the Crown.

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