Spain issues arrest warrant for rapper convicted over lyrics

MADRID (AP) — Authorities in Spain issued arrest warrants Thursday for a Spanish rapper sentenced to prison for lyrics that praised terror groups and insulted the royal family.

Jose Miguel Arenas Beltran, a 24-year-old rap singer and composer from Palma de Mallorca best known as Valtonyc, was being sought, a prosecutor’s statement said.

The rapper was supposed to turn himself in voluntarily to serve a two-year sentence, the statement said, adding that Spanish, European and international arrest warrants have been issued in his name.

Lower courts ruled that he distributed songs online that praised terrorism, insulted Spanish royals and threatened a Spanish politician with violence.

In February, the Supreme Court rejected Beltran’s argument that he was expressing his right to free speech and that rap songs aim to be provocative.

Valtonyc’s case became a cause celebre in Spain among organizations who claim Spanish authorities are cracking down on free speech rights. One of them, the Platform for Freedom of Information, said Thursday the court rulings were “a clear violation of fundamental rights and fly in the face of international principles on freedom of expression which Spain has signed up to.”

Beltran had announced that he would be disobeying the court summons to go to prison. “Tomorrow they will knock down the door to my house to put me in prison. For a few songs,” the rapper wrote in a tweet on Wednesday.

“I’m not going to make it so easy. Disobeying is legitimate and a must before this fascist state,” he said, adding that Spain was “once again making a fool of itself.”

Others expressed little sympathy with his plight, including the parliamentary spokesman for the pro-business Citizens party, who tweeted, “Brave when breaking the law, cowardly when it’s time to accept the consequences.”