Spanish newspaper El Mundo has published another report presenting jailed Catalan pro-independence leader Jordi Sànchez as a rebellious and disobedient prisoner. The Madrid daily has, it seems, been emboldened in its approach to this 'story' after Carles Puigdemont stepped aside from the Catalan presidency and proposed Sànchez as a candidate.
We are told that Sànchez receives too many letters and "exhausts" the prison guards who have to open them up and go through them all. Poor things. He also complains loudly, according to the prison officers of course, that there is a feather in the fried egg given to him for lunch. They have changed his cellmate four times in five months (insinuation: that he is a bad companion). He complains about the cold - in other words, he is soft (the report itself says that inside the jail, the temperature for the prisoners is 12º C). The El Mundo story also accuses of him of grassing on others, and of ignoring the prisoner hierarchy. Etcetera.
Using these "revelations", which he attributes to staff at the Soto del Real prison, the journalist who signs the thing puts together the following headline: "The prisoner has become arrogant after seeing himself as 'Right Honourable'.
It is obvious that the author simply wants to mock the former leader of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) because, with one exception, the actions from which he deduces that Sànchez has become big-headed are prior to his designation as a candidate for the Catalan presidency. But, you know, the facts should never stand in the way of a good headline.
The mocking and disdainful tone of the report continues the line promised by the title. Only one side is given a voice (that of the prison staff), the story bends ordinary facts at times in order to pour scorn on Sànchez, it gives no mention of jokes possibly being made about other prisoners as well, or any consideration of the harsh conditions of the prison, and it judges his intentions. The piece has prompted several reactions:
Me parece infame publicar un artículo así, a base de declaraciones de funcionarios de prisiones que revelan la intimidad de un preso (sea quien sea). Es un ataque contra la dignidad de alguien que está en situación muy vulnerable y que no se puede defender. Triste. pic.twitter.com/J6dlQI1Jtd— Joaquín Urias (@jpurias) 4 of March 2018
Translation: To me it seems disgusting to publish an article of this type, based on statements by prison staff who reveal the intimate details about a prisoner (whoever it may be). It is an attack on the dignity of someone who is in a very vulnerable situation and can't defend himself. Sad. — Joaquín Urias [Professor of Constitutional Law]
No ha de denunciar qualsevol pres--qualsevol--que hi hagi una ploma de gallina en un ou ferrat? O és que un pres--qualsevol--ha de menjar merda perquè és un pres? https://t.co/so21ISp447— Empar Moliner (@emparmoliner) 4 of March 2018
Shouldn't any prisoner - any - complain that there is a feather in a fried egg? Or does a prisoner - any prisoner - simply have to eat shit because s/he is a prisoner? — Empar Moliner [Journalist]
It is not the first time that the nationalist Madrid tabloid has tried to humiliate Sànchez. Just a week earlier, on its front page, it called him "Puigdemont's puppet". This has been going on for ages. Last November the paper had already spread the word (links in Spanish), in the same tone of disdain for the prisoner, that the cellmate of Sànchez had been switched because his original companion complained that he was an "independentist pain-in-the-arse".
The writer of that story is also responsible for this latest one. The item is equally full of errors and lack of judgement. It makes errors in Sànchez's biography; it expresses shock about a complaint he made about the food; it speaks of letters being "intercepted" (as if they were arms or drugs). On the other hand, it tiptoes around an incident where mobile phones belonging to Sànchez's lawyer were somehow stolen from the lockers in the prison where he had left them for safe-keeping - treating it as though it was a minor, everyday incident. He forgets about the reprisals taken against Sànchez in prison for taking part in the Catalan election campaign in which he was a candidate. He repeats one of the insults addressed to Sànchez by a group of prisoners in Soto del Real, a group he identifies ethnically. All to be expected.
And all very tacky. In June 2017, the same author invented the entire contents of a report (in Spanish) in which he discredited the family of football manager Pep Guardiola, spreading rumours about their professional trajectories. It was the week that Guardiola had read the manifesto of the pro-independence groups for the referendum on 1st October, which spread news of the event all over the world.
Jordi Sànchez has suffered the same fate: he must have had it coming to him when he accepted being the Together for Catalonia (JxCat) candidate for the presidency of Catalonia.
It all becomes understandable (or not!) when you look at the writer's Twitter account, which over two months ago contained this tweet, relating to the highly-publicised case of the brutal murder of a young Galician woman, Diana Quer. The scribe wishes Quer's killer "an inferno ... or the savage law of prison". One does not know if he might wish the same for others. Or perhaps one does.
Mandar un fuerte abrazo a la familia de Diana Quer y a esos agentes de la @guardiacivil que llevan año y medio sin vacaciones resolviendo el caso. Yo, como la madre, también le deseo el infierno a El Chicle...o la salvaje ley de la cárcel https://t.co/Cd29ck10F6 — Javier Negre (@javiernegre10) 31 of diciembre of 2017
Translation: I send a strong embrace to Diana Quer's family and to the Guardia Civil officers who have spent a year and a half without any holidays resolving the case. I, like the mother, also wish an inferno to [the accused] El Chicle... or the savage law of prison. - Javier Negre