Catalan president Quim Torra's trip to Portugal in recent days - to meet with political representatives in the Portuguese parliament and to give a lecture at a Lisbon university - has led to growing expressions of support for political prisoners in the country and, as a consequence, nervousness at the Spanish embassy in Portugal.
The Spanish embassy's director of communications, Agustín Galán, has written an article for the Portuguese daily Público refuting the case made by journalist José Pacheco in the same newspaper asserting that "right now, a trial for sedition would only be possible in two European countries: Russia and Spain."
Galan's strongly-worded response, entitled "The fake news right next door", dedicates 800 words to denying what he considers to be Pacheco's "fake news" (both links in Portuguese).
The 'crime of sedition'
First up, Galán says asserts that "most countries' criminal codes include the so-called 'crime of sedition'" and that Portuguese criminal law itself includes a crime "comparable" to that of sedition. Then, the embassy head attacks Pacheco's statement that Catalan politicians have the support of the Catalan people: "False. They only have the support of less than half".
Agustín Galán continues down his list of what he sees as the journalist's fake facts and declares that "political prisoners only exist in dictatorships, not in democracies." Galán adds that talking about political prisoners "is a falsehood and an insult."
Finally, the diplomat assures that "the Spanish parties that oppose independence (Ciudadanos, PP and PSOE) are democratic parties." This is a response to Pacheco's classification of these political groups as "Francoist Spanish nationalist" groupings.
Meeting with Portuguese MPs
On Thursday, Catalan president Quim Torra met around 15 Portuguese MPs from left-wing parties. After the meeting, the MP Isabel Pires said that her Left Bloc party would ask the Portuguese government to pressure Madrid to open negotiations with the Catalan government. On Friday, Torra gave an address entitled "Catalonia and the right to self-determination: an international perspective", at the ISCTE University Institute of Lisbon, and subsequently took part in a debate.
M'he reunit amb diputats de la majoria de grups polítics de l'Assemblea de Portugal (PS, BE i PSD). He agraït la resolució de fa un any en què demanen una solució política pel cas català i m’han expressat la solidaritat amb Catalunya i el respecte pel dret a l’autodeterminació. pic.twitter.com/SIdv8hzVDb— Quim Torra i Pla (@QuimTorraiPla) 28 de març de 2019
The Spanish embassy in Portugal has not digested Quim Torra's visit to the country very well and is making a point of criticising those who defend the independence process and speak out against the continuing Supreme Court trial of 12 independence leaders.