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The Latest: Spain: Puigdemont Asylum Would be 'surprising'

The Latest: Spain: Puigdemont Asylum Would be 'surprising'

Tuesday, 31 October 2017 05:40 AM

BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on the Spain-Catalonia political crisis (all times local):

10:20 a.m.

Spain's foreign minister says the country's authorities would be surprised if ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont seeks political asylum in Belgium and is granted protection by authorities there.

Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said in an interview with Spanish Cadena SER radio that there is a level of "reciprocal trust" about the rule of law among members of the European Union.

"It would be surprising that he could receive the right to asylum under the current circumstances," Dastis said, adding that the acceptance of an asylum petition "would not be a situation of normality" in relations between the two countries.

Belgium allows asylum requests by citizens of other European Union nations, and in the past, some Basque separatists weren't extradited to Spain while they sought asylum, causing years of friction.

10:10 a.m.

One of Catalonia's main separatist civil society groups says that while it considers that Spain "illegitimately" called an early regional election, it's an opportunity to get a mandate to "ratify the republic."

The Assemblea Nacional Catalan, or ANC, which only recognizes an independent Catalan republic, has made the comments in a statement Tuesday, after its leaders held a meeting late Monday.

The ANC says that elections to be held on Dec. 21 can't be considered to have full democratic guarantees because they were "illegitimately called by the government in Madrid" and because two activists are in jail pending sedition charges, including ANC leader Jordi Sanchez.

But the statement said that grassroots organizations need to prepare a "joint strategy" before the regional election with the goal of "obtaining an uncontested victory that will ratify the Republic."

9:35 a.m.

European officials say Catalonia's ousted regional president will give a news conference in Brussels as speculation mounts as to whether he will request political asylum in Belgium.

Carles Puigdemont arrived in Brussels on Monday, the same day that Spanish prosecutors announced they were seeking rebellion, sedition and embezzlement charges against deposed Catalan officials, including the ex-regional leader.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said that Puigdemont will speak publicly Tuesday in Brussels.

Over the weekend, a Belgian government official said that it wouldn't be "unrealistic" for Puigdemont to request asylum.

Belgium allows asylum requests by citizens of other European Union nations, and in the past, some Basque separatists weren't extradited to Spain while they sought asylum, causing years of friction.

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The Latest on the Spain-Catalonia political crisis (all times local):10:20 a.m.Spain's foreign minister says the country's authorities would be surprised if ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont seeks political asylum in Belgium and is granted protection by authorities...
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Tuesday, 31 October 2017 05:40 AM
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