Spanish rapper convicted in free speech case

Spanish police stormed a university on Tuesday to arrest a rapper who had barricaded himself inside -- over a free speech case that has gripped that country.

Pablo Hasel had been sentenced to nine-months in jail, originally handed down in 2018, on charges of glorifying terrorism and insulting royalty in his songs.

He missed a deadline of last Friday to hand himself in to police.

The sentence caused has uproar in Spain and led the government to announce it would make free speech laws less restrictive.

The rapper took refuge in a university building in northeastern Spain with a group of supporters. Chairs were thrown and fire extinguishers were emptied as police carrying guns and wearing protective headgear reached Hasel.

Known for his radical leftist views, Hasel was convicted over lyrics and tweets that included references to Basque separatist paramilitary group ETA, compared Spanish judges to Nazis and called former king Juan Carlos a mafia boss.

Raising a clenched fist as he was led away, the rapper was heard shouting "You will never defeat us! You will never overcome us, we will resist until we are victorious,”

More than 200 artists, including film director Pedro Almodovar and actor Javier Bardem signed a petition against Hasel's jailing.

Spain's government said last week in response to the case that it would reform the "gag law" enacted in 2015 to introduce milder penalties, and target only actions generating a risk to public order or provoking violent conduct.