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Catalan president Carles Puigdemont called for the "immediate release" of all the political prisoners as he left Neumünster prison today. In his first comments since his release, the president, accompanied by his lawyer, Wolfgang Schomburg, called for the release of his colleagues still being held in pretrial detention in Spain.

A pointed Puigdemont called into question justice and democracy in Spain. The president described the existence of political prisoners as "an embarrassment for Europe". He celebrated the decision by the German courts and expressed his "confidence in European democracy" and its respect for "separation of powers, peace and human rights".

Puigdemont sortida presó ACN

The president, leaving Neumünster prison / ACN

The president went on to emphasise that the Catalan question is no longer a "domestic or internal issue", but one that affects the whole of Europe, despite the normal position taken by European politicians. The president started his speech, however, thanking the expressions of support he has received from around the world. 

"The time for dialogue"

Dialogue with Spain and time for politics. That's Puigdemont's solution to the current stalemate. The president said that, as he has called for for years, dialogue is needed between Spanish and Catalan authorities. "There are no excuses", he said forcefully, to not look for a political solution, instead of the current search for one through "criminal law".

"It's the time for politics", said the president, after noting that his fight is not just for the right to self-determination, but also for democracy.

Free but waiting on the judge

Puigdemont gave his speech just outside Neumünster prison shortly before 2pm local time this Friday, to a large, expectant media crowd.

Earlier, at 11:14am, public prosecutors had given the order to release the president after he posted the 75,000 euro bail (£65,600, $91,700) set yesterday by the judges of the Higher Regional Court of Schleswig-Holstein.

The president is now free awaiting the final decision on his extradition. They've discounted the charge of rebellion, but he could still be delivered to Spain on the count of misuse of public funds. They have 60 days to decide. Meanwhile, Puigdemont has to remain locatable and has to appear before police every week.

His lawyer in Germany, Wolfgang Schomburg, who spoke today after the president, said that extradition cannot be discounted although he expressed confidence it won't happen. If the Schleswig-Holstein court does decide to send the president to Spain, Schomburg has said he would appeal the decision to the German constitutional court.

Carles Puigdemont sortida preso / ACN

President Puigdemont and the media crowd / ACN

Full speech:

"First of all, some words in German: I would like to thank everyone for their help and solidarity. Thank you very much.

Second, I would like to express thanks for the support I have received all these days from all around the world: the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, France, Switzerland (...) Spain and Catalonia. I will need some weeks to respond to all of them. Thank you very much for your support and your solidarity.

I also would like to thank all the public servants at this centre, particularly those in charge of my release, for their professionality and their respect. I also received such support from the residents who have expressed their solidarity and helped me in order to adapt quickly to the situation. My best wishes to all of them and their families.

I call for the immediate release of all my colleagues still in Spanish prisons. It's an embarrassment for Europe to have political prisoners. I've always trusted in European democracy based on the will of the people, the separation of powers, peace and human rights. That kind of democracy is at risk in Spain. Our fight is also for democracy, not only for the right to self-determination. And that fight is not a domestic or internal matter, it concerns all European citizens worried about the risk of a wave of soft democracy crushing the Union and taking power in order to prevent the devolution of powers ot the citizens, to bring more power to local and regional administrations.

Finally, the time for dialogue has arrived, we have been demanding dialogue for the last few years and we've only received a violent and repressive response. Now, seeing the failure of that response, it's the time for politics. There are no excuses for Spanish authorities to not start political dialogue with Catalan political leaders in order to find a political solution to our demands, not one through criminal law."