Freed ex-Catalan leader calls for dialogue

Puigdemon could still face extradition.

Catalan ex-leader Carles Puigdemont has called for immediate dialogue after being released on bail in Germany.

So far, he and other separatists had received only a "repressive response" from Spanish authorities, he said.

He was arrested in northern Germany last month while travelling from Denmark on his way to Belgium, where he lives in self-imposed exile.

The former Catalan leader is wanted in Spain on sedition and other charges over last year's independence vote.

But a German court has warned he could still face extradition.

On Thursday, the court in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein rejected "rebellion" as grounds for Mr Puigdemont's extradition to Spain and set bail at 75,000 euros (£65,000; $90,000).

Leaving court on Friday afternoon, he thanked his supporters around the world, saying: "Our fight is for democracy, not just for self-determination."

He also called for the immediate release of other Catalan separatists being held in Spain, whom he described as "political prisoners".

A number of prominent Catalan leaders, including the region's former police chief, are facing charges over their role in the unauthorised referendum last year, which saw voters in Catalonia back independence.

But Madrid intervened after the Catalan parliament declared independence last October, sacking separatist leaders, dissolving the regional parliament and calling a snap election to replace it.

Mr Puigdemont fled to Belgium and was arrested on 25 March under a European Arrest Warrant issued by Spain. Although he has been released on bail, he may still face extradition over accusations he misused public funds to hold the referendum last year.

As part of his release, he is not allowed to leave Germany and must report to German police on a weekly basis.

 

 

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