Thousands of people took the streets of Barcelona Saturday to demand the release of 11 anarchists arrested by the police last week.
The demonstration comes after a judge sentenced seven of the 11 anarchists to serve prison time without bail. The remaining will be released on probation.
Tens of thousands of people also marched in Madrid in solidarity with the Barcelona protests.
The anarchists are accused of belonging to terrorist cells. Spanish Judge Javier Gomez Bermudez said that “from our investigation on anarchist groups we concluded that their members could be the authors of several bomb plots throughout the country.”
Between 2012 and 2013, a series of homemade bombs were planted in ATMs and churches throughout the country. One of the bombs exploded in Zaragoza, putting authorities on high alert.
However, the anarchists claim they are innocent. Anarchist groups consider the ongoing investigation on the 2012-2013 bomb plots – dubbed Operation Pandora – as an excuse to crack down on the strong Spanish anarchist movement.
Critics have pointed at the fact that authorities arrested the 11 activists and then claimed they had found evidence after the raid of their possible involvement in the plots, which shows their arrest was not based on previously obtained elements.
Lawmaker David Companyon from the local Parliament has accused the government of using Operation Pandora and the arrest of the 11 activists as stunt to garner support for the recently approved “gag law,” which was received with massive demonstrations and widespread criticism over concerns that it will lead to government-sanctioned human rights abuses.
“(They) need to justify the necessity of the Gag Law” said Companyon.
The demonstrations both in Barcelona and Madrid concluded without violent incidents or arrests.