Read in Catalan

In the middle of the Catalan election campaign, on 14th December, someone set in motion a rumour that a very select unit of the Catalan Mossos police had been snooping on the Spanish government delegate in Catalonia, Enric Millo, as well as the man who still leads the Catalan Popular Party, Xavier García Albiol. The information was released through the EFE news agency, which quoted police sources. The Mossos denied it many hours later, while Spain's interior ministry said that it knew nothing about it, a simple way to allow the story to stay alive for several more hours. In fact, ever since the terrorist attacks on Barcelona and Cambrils last August, the Spanish government has given encouragement to an unprecedented campaign to discredit the Catalan police, contributing nothing to guarantee the security of us all.

A letter from Catalonia's acting interior minister Joaquim Forn in Estremera prison, which I received in my office on the 27th and which is dated the 15th, made me remember that leak. I also think that it would be good for the public to know Joaquim Form's opinion of the matter: "It is an extraordinary lie. I feel terrible hearing this story and being unable to say anything about it". I believe that it is worth using this column today to give a voice to someone who has not been able to defend himself up till now from what is a serious accusation. A person who, like Oriol Junqueras and the Jordis, remains in preventive prison without bail in Madrid's Estremera jail, the two government ministers for the last 56 days and the other two, presidents of the pro-independence civil groups ANC and Òmnium, for 73 days. A punishment that becomes more unjust and disproportionate with every day that goes by, and since the Catalan elections, and the victory of the pro-independence parties at the ballot box and the election of some of the men as MPs in the new parliament, should give way to an immediate departure from prison and an end to the preventive detention while they await trial.

All four men say they are well, that the days are long and that they receive hundreds of letters, which they read but cannot answer in their entirety. But that they are very grateful for the communication and would not like those who write, in some cases daily, to think they do not receive them or that they do not give them their attention. And also, that they need them. And that they give thanks for them. It is their daily contact with the outside world, with the exception of the very limited visits that the prison regime allows.

In this world of instantaneous communication via mobiles, whatsapps and e-mails, a letter written on December 15th, stamped in Madrid on the 21st and reaching its destination on the 27th marks the difference between being at liberty or being deprived of it. And how the constant whirl of events which we are used to and depend on is the first freedom to be taken away. First for them, but also for us, who know them.