Madrid: The nine Catalan separatist leaders who were jailed for their role in a failed 2017 independence bid walked out of prison on Wednesday after the government granted them pardons.
Former Catalonia Vice President Oriol Junqueras, five fellow cabinet members, the former regional parliament’s speaker and two pro-independence activists walked free shortly after noon.
Seven of the freed secessionists were greeted by newly-appointed Catalan leader Pere Aragones.
Dozens of supporters had gathered in the rain outside the Lledoners jail, north of Barcelona, where they had been held.
The men, released in a group, held up a small banner that said, in English, “Freedom For Catalonia”, as well as a Catalan flag. They addressed their supporters in the Catalan language.
“We are aware that today, with our release from prison, nothing has ended,” Junqueras told supporters. “Prison does not scare us, it reinforces our ideas.”
At the same time, the two remaining prisoners, both women, were released from two other facilities.