"They'll have to break in to arrest and imprison me," Spanish rapper Pablo Hasel tweeted Monday after barricading himself inside a university building with around 50 supporters. Hasel, who holds radical leftist and anti-establishment views, was supposed to surrender to authorities by last Friday to begin serving a nine-month prison sentence for tweets and lyrics attacking the police and monarchy and praising banned guerrilla groups, the BBC reports. Hasel and his supporters locked himself inside a building at Catalonia's Lleida University and said they would wait for police to arrive. "We are trying to raise awareness of what is happening," he tells Reuters. "This is a very serious attack on our freedoms, not just on me."
In his tweets and lyrics, Hasel accused police of torturing and killing migrants. He also likened former king Juan Carlos to a Mafia boss. He was convicted under a 2015 law known as the "gag law," which bans insulting the monarchy and glorifying terrorism. The case has sparked a national debate over free speech and more than 200 artists, including director Pedro Almodovar, have signed a petition against imprisoning Hasel. His sentence "leaves the sword hanging over the heads of all public figures who dare to openly criticize the actions of state institutions all the more evident," the petition states, per the AP. The government responded to the uproar by saying it will reduce the penalty for crimes involving freedom of expression, though it didn't mention Hasel's sentence. (Read more Spain stories.)