Spanish journalist Jorge Correa, also known as "Boro," has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for "praising terrorism" and "disrupting social peace" through social media posts and his reporting.
The case hinged on 21 public posts by Correa that Spain's highest national court said "praise the terrorist organization ETA (Basque Homeland and Liberty), their acts and its members."
Among them are demands for the release of ETA member Josu Uribetxeberria Bolinaga on humanitarian reasons, calls to honor the Basque gudaris (the autonomous soldiers during the Spanish civil war), and rallying cries for public protests.
Correa is also accused of posting a map detailing the Civil Guard presence in Euskadi, along with the quote: "The map of Spanish terrorism in Euskal Herria (the Basque region)."
In an interview with Publico, Correa denied any deliberate wrongdoing. "I didn't know that demanding amnesty for Basque political prisioners was a crime," he said, noting that Bolinaga should be freed on humanitarian reasons due to illness.
Correa denied authoring several of the posts, claiming his account could have been hacked in order to fabricate evidence against him.
One of the posts states that "Ortega Lara had it coming," a reference to the Spanish prision officer kidnapped by ETA between 1996 and 1997. "I don't remember writing that Ortega Lara had it coming," Correa said.
"This is a political accusation for thinking what I think. It's normal in this kind of judicial processes within the 'spider' operations. The prosecutors gather different tweets and even tell you what your intentions about it were.
"In my accusation they're mixing apples with pears and putting everything on the same level, regardless of whether the tweet was written with humour or satire."
No Freedom of Speech
Correa is also due in court in April over his role in a 2014 protest he claims to have been covering for La Haine news site. He's accused of injuring two police officers and may face six years in prison.
The journalist says he fears the purpose of the first trial is to generate a police record so that any subsequent sentencing can be extended.
Ruben Ollo "Olazti," also a La Haine contributor, failed to appear in court, where he was due to answer identical charges.
The Spider Operations were carried out by the Spanish Civil Guard against social media users who had been deemed to "praise terrorism."
Amnesty Internatinal, which reported 73 related arrests between 2014 and 2016, said all of the accused had been using their "freedom of speech in a peaceful manner."
Several other Facebook and Twitter users have been arrested and sentenced since then, many of them from the Basque Country.
Among them is Andeka Jurado, sentenced to 18 months in prison for two retweets, one tweet and a video paying tribute to ETA member Bolinaga, who had recently passed away.
ETA has observed a unilateral ceasefire since 2011, declaring itself a disarmed organization in April 2017. It's still referred by the European Union, the United States and mainstream media as a "terrorist" organization.
Correa, who also contributes to La Haine and Kaos En La Red, has cited the constitution's 20th article in his defense, arguing that freedom of speech in Spain no longer exists.