Deposed Catalan leader ‘not seeking asylum in Belgium’


Barcelona, Spain (CNN)Catalonia’s deposed leader Carles Puigdemont said he was not in Brussels to apply for political asylum but had traveled to the Belgian capital for “safety” after Spain filed charges of rebellion against him.

In his first public remarks since charges were announced over his drive for independence in the Spanish region, Puigdemont condemned the “violence” and “oppression” of the Madrid government.
But Puigdemont told reporters in Brussels that his party would participate in elections in Catalonia on December 21, called by the Spanish government after it dissolved the ousted leader’s administration in Barcelona last week.
“I am not here to demand political asylum. I am here in Brussels as the capital of Europe,” he told reporters at the Belgian press club, alongside other members of his deposed government.
Puigdemont said he could act with “freedom and safety” in Belgium and declined to say when he would return to Spain. His lawyer Paul Bakaert had earlier told CNN that Puigdemont was considering an application for asylum in Belgium.
Puigdemont arrived in Brussels Monday, the same day that chief prosecutor Jose Manuel Maza said he would seek charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds against the ousted leader and several members of his former government. The charge of rebellion carries a maximum jail term of 30 years.

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