Thousands in Barcelona demand rapper's release

Barcelona’s streets were on fire Tuesday night, as thousands of protesters demanded the release of Spanish rapper Pablo Hasel.

Earlier in the day, dozens of police stormed Lleida University in northeastern Spain to arrest Hasel.

He had been hiding since last Friday when he was supposed to start a nine-month jail term.

Hasel is considered a radical leftist and was convicted in 2018 of glorifying terrorism and insulting the monarchy.

In lyrics and tweets, he’s referenced the Basque separatist group ETA, compared the country's judges to Nazis and called former king Juan Carlos a mafia boss.

His 2018 sentencing caused uproar in Spain, which led the government to announce it would roll back free speech laws.

Just last week, Spain’s leftist government said they would amend a 2015 “gag” law, which prevents glorifying armed groups and insulting the monarchy or religion.

After Tuesday’s arrest, Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo sided with demonstrators when she told reporters that free speech convictions should not happen in a democracy like Spain.

More than 200 artists across the film and music industry signed a petition opposing Hasel’s sentencing, including actor Javier Bardem and director Pedro Almodovar.