A rapper by the name Valtonyc has been sentenced to prison for three and a half months, confirmed by the supreme court of Spain, Tuesday, February 20. Valtonyc, born José Miguel Arenas Beltrán, was found guilty of writing and uploading songs to the internet that support terrorism, commit libel against the king of Spain, and threaten the life of Jorge Campos, the leader of an anti-leftist political association that works to curb the spread of the Catalan language.
Valtonyc tweeted about the verdict Tuesday: “The sentence of the supreme [court] has now come out. Three years and six months of jail over my songs. I have to go to prison. I will give an update as soon as I know more.”
According to Spanish outlets Diario de Mallorca and Diario Crítico, the supreme court ruled that Valtonyc’s lyrics demonstrated support of terrorist groups ETA, GRAPO, and several of their members. It also ruled that Valtonyc’s songs constituted threats against Campos, with lyrics like “Jorge Campos deserves to get blown up by a nuclear bomb” (translation my own).
Valtonyc first received his sentence a year ago from the country’s national court, which oversees all of Spain. The rapper appealed his sentence, taking it to the supreme court and arguing that his lyrics were protected by freedom of speech and artistic expression, and furthermore, that within the context of rap, which is often bombastic and over-the-top, his words were especially harmless. With its decision this week, Spain’s supreme court rejected Valtonyc’s arguments, potentially setting a dangerous precedent for freedom of speech in Spain.
Spain is in the middle of an ongoing culture war and political crisis, as Catalonia, the autonomous region in the northeastern part of the country that has long considered itself independent from Spain as a whole, decided to officially declare its independence last November, only to have the move blocked by Spain. Valtonyc is from Islas Baleares, an island off the eastern coast of Spain where Catalan and Spanish are both official languages and that is culturally very similar to Catalonia.
We have reached out to Valtonyc for comment and will update this post as we learn more.