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MEPs protest at the "hurdles" Spain erects to stop them visiting the jailed ministers

They declare the response from the Spanish authorities to be "extremely serious"

Several foreign MEPs have complained of the "hurdles" they face in obtaining authorization to visit the ministers and leaders of the pro-independence groups incarcerated in the Spanish penitentiaries of Estremera, Alcalá Meco and Soto del Real. "We haven’t encountered any kind of cooperation from the government in Madrid" declared the Italian MEP Eleonora Forenza, part of a delegation of sixteen MEPs who plan to visit the ministers and the leaders of the ANC and Òmnium in prison.

"So far we haven’t received a coherent response, with an explanation" added French MEP Marie-Pierre Vieu. "It’s deeply troubling" she continued, while recalling the right of MEPs to visit any European prison. Vieu went on to say, "We ask to be respected and to be able to come and speak with the democratically elected politicians". Forenza added, "They put more and more hurdles in the way, making it impossible for our delegation to visit the political prisoners". "We call for their freedom, and also our right to visit them" she declared.

José Bové, a historic figure on the French green left, also declared in a press conference held in the European Parliament on Wednesday that Spain is putting obstacles in the way of their visit. "Why weren’t we allowed?", he asked, declaring that they are now lobbying the French authorities to "talk with their counterparts in Spain", adding "It's completely crazy".

Vieu stated that the MEPs are "very surprised at how things have turned out, with ministers and activists being jailed for having a point of view that isn’t authorized by the Spanish central government". "We call for the 21 December elections to be transparent" she added, before emphasising her "right" to see the ministers behind bars, to discuss the current situation.

"If the prisoners wish to be released they have to accept what the government says," lamented José Bové, who believes that in Spain, justice "is controlled by political power" which he sees as "also a problem for the European Union". "What is happening to the Catalan political representatives is unacceptable" added Forenza.

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