Catalan journalist Jesús Rodríguez is being investigated for “terrorism.” He is now “exiled” in Switzerland.

Flags at a demonstration.

Catalan demonstration in Barcelona in September 2017 Photo: Xavier Bonilla/Zuma Press/imago

MADRID taz | The journalist Jesús Rodríguez has left Spain. The employee of the leftist magazine. The Direct He now lives in Switzerland, in “exile,” as he calls it. The 50-year-old man is being investigated for “terrorism” in his country.

Judge Manuel García-Castellón of the National Court, a special court against terrorism and gang crimes, accuses Rodríguez of being part of a movement to “overthrow the constitutional order.” The journalist knew in advance about the massive mobilizations of October 2019, the so-called Democratic Tsunami. This should be demonstrated by intercepted messages on mobile phones.

At the time, tens of thousands demonstrated again and again against the sentencing of Catalan independence politicians and activists to prison terms of up to 13 years for holding an independence referendum in 2017. There were clashes with police in Barcelona. The climax was a peaceful blockade of Barcelona airport. The judge considers the mobilizations terrorism.

“That's absurd. I was simply doing my job as a journalist,” says Rodríguez. He wonders what a journalist has to do to avoid being suspected of terrorism: “Find a report?” He went to Geneva “to avoid arbitrary detention and to be able to continue working.”

The bill doesn't add up.

García-Castellón, close to the right-wing Popular Party (PP), began the investigation into the Democratic Tsunami on time: the Spanish government of Pedro Sánchez and the Catalan independence parties are negotiating an amnesty for all those involved in the organization accused or condemned by the 2017 referendum.

He defines the movement as terrorist in the hope that it will not fall under the amnesty. García-Castellón is investigating a total of 12 people. Seven of them are now abroad.

The judge is mainly concerned about former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont. According to García-Castellón, he led the “terrorist” movement from Brussels – where he has been exiled since 2017.

García-Castellón's calculation probably won't work out. The Democratic Tsunami is also taken into account in the final version of the amnesty law. At the end of May, when the law is legal, the investigations must stop. “Until then I will continue in exile,” says Rodríguez.

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