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Prison officer critical of Catalan leaders' incarceration faces backlash

José Ángel Hidalgo summoned by Spanish penitentiary institution after publication of article condemning imprisonments


29 March 2018 01:59 PM


ACN | Barcelona

An officer of Spanish prisons who spoke out against the incarceration of Catalan leaders calling it a “democratic shame” faces backlash from Spain's government.

José Ángel Hidalgo, who works at the Estremera prison where five deposed pro-independence officials are being held, wrote in an online article entitled ‘The Cats of Estremera’ that he felt “used in order to resolve a political problem.”

“It is a shame that makes it unbearable to work everyday. It is a democratic shame having to suffer the spectacle of five men locked up in jail for political crimes,” Hidalgo wrote in the online magazine Ctxt. As well as being a prison officer, Hidalgo is also a writer and journalist.

The men he refers to are Oriol Junqueras, Joaquim Forn, Jordi Turull, Josep Rull and Raül Romeva, all behind bars in the Madrid region while the Spanish judiciary investigates their roles in the push for independence. They face different charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds, which can carry up to 30 years in prison.

He went on to say that it was an embarrassment for all of Spain “that always defrauds, that always fails, that always hurts and makes bleed with the broken tip of its historical disputes.”


Hidalgo’s criticism of the imprisonment of the pro-independence leaders has not come without its consequences, however.

The secretary general of Spain’s penitentiary institutions has summoned José Ángel Hidalgo, recommending that he come accompanied with a lawyer, after the publication of the article online. Hidalgo said that he is “calm,” recalling how last December he published a novel also based on “serious events.”

Writing about his role as a prison officer, Hidalgo also stated that “we are essential in this government’s pathetic strategy: prison, prison, and prison for thinking differently.”


  • Outside the prison in Estremera, the Madrid region (by ACN)

  • Outside the prison in Estremera, the Madrid region (by ACN)