Spanish Rapper Valtonyc Reportedly Flees Country to Avoid Prison Sentence For Lyrics 'Glorifying Terrorism'

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People protesting demanding freedom of expression after rap artist Valtonyc was convicted to three and a half years of prison for the lyrics of his songs. 

The Spanish courts have sentenced artist Valtonyc to jail for three and a half years.

The Spanish National High Court has reportedly issued an international warrant for the capture of rapper Valtonyc, who Spanish press say has fled the country to avoid a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence for lyrics insulting the royal family and “glorifying terrorism." The 24-year-old rapper, whose real name is Josep Miquel Arenas, was required to report to begin serving his sentence on Thursday (May 24).

Valtonyc's whereabouts are unknown, even to friends and family, according to Mulay Embarek, a spokesperson for the Free Vatlonyc Support Group, which Embarek says is a collective of "conscious people" who have been advocating for the rapper.

Embarek talked to Billboard from Brussels, where he and others, including several European Parliament members from the Catalan region, were speaking for Valtonyc's cause at a conference on Freedom of Expression. Embarek said he did not know if newspapers reports that Valtonyc had fled -- possibly to Belgium -- were true, but he said that no matter where the convicted hip-hop artist was, he would not surrender to the authorities. 

"He will never turn himself in," Embarek said. "Someone who has done something wrong should turn themselves in. But he has done nothing wrong...today marks a historic day in Spain, the day that someone is expected to turn himself in and go to prison for singing."

In a front page story Thursday, the national Madrid-based newspaper El Pais reported that Spain’s Audiencia Nacional had issued a national, European and international order for Valtonyc’s detention. Embarek conceded that as far as he knew, the newspaper report that a warrant for Valtonyc's arrest had been issued was credible.

On May 14, Valtonyc, who is from Mallorca in the Balearic Islands off the Catalan mainland, had been ordered to report to a federal prison within 10 days. The rapper was sentenced by the Spanish Supreme Court in February on charges of inciting terrorism and insulting the country’s royal family in songs posted on YouTube and other Internet platforms. The charges were made under a 2015 Spanish law that limits freedom of speech, prohibits mass gatherings and invokes fines for protesting and comments on social media. The widely maligned Ley Mordaza was ostensibly put in place as a "public safety law" to assist in the fight against terrorism.

On Wednesday (May 23), a Tweet sent from from Valtonyc’s account said “he would not make it easy” for authorities, adding “Disobeying is legitimate and [an] obligation faced with this Fascist state.”

“Calling me a terrorist is nonsense,” Valtonyc (pronounced Vatlonick) said last month during a conference on freedom of expression that took place at La Modelo, a former prison in Barcelona in April. “My songs don’t hurt anyone, I haven’t killed anyone. I rap about things that happen, but I’m not a participant.”

Valtonyc lost an appeal to the Spanish Constitutional Court and was ordered to prison by the National High Court, where he was first tried and convicted.