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Spain drops extradition request for Catalan academic

A Spanish Supreme Court judge has revoked the international arrest warrants against Clara Ponsati and five others.

Spain has withdrawn an international arrest warrant for former Catalan politician and St Andrews University academic Clara Ponsati who has been fighting extradition from the UK.

A Spanish Supreme Court judge has dropped his extradition requests for six Catalan separatist politicians wanted on rebellion charges, including Carles Puigdemont – Catalonia’s ex-regional president who fled to Belgium to avoid arrest and then went to Germany.

Authorities in Madrid had been seeking Prof Ponsati on charges of violent rebellion and misappropriation of public funds over her role in Catalonia’s controversial independence referendum last year.

In a decision published on Thursday, Judge Pablo Llarena said he is revoking the European and international arrest warrants against the six in what the Catalan separatist movement will likely regard as a major victory against Spain’s central authorities.

The charges are in connection with the Catalan regional government’s unauthorised referendum last year on independence from Spain and a subsequent unilateral declaration of independence by the separatist-controlled regional parliament.

Prof Ponsati has been fighting the extradition charges in the Scottish courts.

However a national arrest warrant remains in place which means she could be arrested by the Spanish authorities if she returns to Spain.

Her lawyer Aamer Anwar tweeted: “We welcome news but have no official confirmation yet from Spain-we await Spain’s next step on warrants & a national warrant remains which means @ClaraPonsati remains in exile & political prisoners in custody – A disaster for Spain.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also tweeted, saying: “If true, very good news that extradition proceedings have been dropped against @ClaraPonsati.

“Political differences should be pursued democratically not through criminal courts. Let’s hope she is now allowed to get on with her life – and being the credit to Scotland that she is.”

A University of St Andrews spokeswoman added: “We are delighted for Clara, but will obviously monitor closely the further implications of the decision in Spain.”

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