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Thousands of Spanish citizens have taken to the streets protesting the arrest of rapper Pablo Hasel. Hasel was sentenced to prison on Tuesday for “glorifying terrorism and slandering the crown and state institution”.

Hasel, and a number of his supporters, attempted to delay his incarceration by barricading him inside Lleida University. But he was apprehended by Catalan police only a day after his arrival.

Outrage at Hasel’s imprisonment is due to the basis of his arrest being an infringement of his freedom of speech. Hasel is known for his tendency to criticize the Spanish monarchy in his lyricism, something that brought him negative attention from the authorities.

Even while being taken into police custody, Hasel refused to renounce his beliefs, shouting “they will never silence us; death to the fascist state”.

Hasel now faces a jail term of nine-months for his transgressions-speaking critically of Spain’s monarchy and police, and for attempting to avoid arrest.

Protests broke out across Spain on Tuesday, as protesters gathered, advocating for Hasel’s release. Tensions between the demonstrators and the police quickly soured as police charged the protesters.

Just last week the Spanish government claimed that it would be reducing its penalties on “crimes of expression”.  Hasel’s case is the symptom of a larger struggle for free and protected speech that is ongoing in Spain.

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