Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Little Green Footballs has a post up titled "Spanish Blogger Charged with Supporting Israel," which has attracted a lot of comment around the blogosphere. Barcepundit has been in contact with the blogger in question, Alejandro del Llano, who has confirmed that he was sent a court order to come in for a hearing.

Here is Del Llano's original post, translated by a human (me) and not a machine:

Two years ago the mayor of the municipality of Olieros in La Coruña province, who is also a friend of Fidel Castro, organized a campaign with public funds against the democratic state of Israel. Because of that, I sent him an e-mail expressing my opinion about all this. Today I received a summons from the criminal court ordering me to testify as the defendant on charges of "being in favor of Israel and against the Palestinian people." What do you think?

As Barcepundit says, it sounds fishy to me.

It is not a crime to "be in favor of Israel and against the Palestinian people" in Spain. We have freedom of expression here, too, and though the legal limits of expression are slightly different in Spain that in the US, they basically guarantee the same thing, the individual's right to speak his mind. So if some idiot left-wing mayor actually did press charges against Del Llano for supporting Israel, the case will instantly be thrown out of court by the judge, and Del Llano has excellent grounds for a lawsuit. Also, he can press criminal charges against the mayor for "prevaricación," which is more or less abuse of power.

Therefore, if it's true that charges have been pressed against Del Llano, who sent Barcepundit a copy of the summons but not of his original e-mail, it must be for some real crime, not for backing Israel and criticizing the Palestinians.

It is a crime in Spain, as it is in the United States, to commit libel, and libel in Spain includes gratuitous personal insults. That is, you can say the mayor is wrong and he shouldn't have done what he did and he should resign or be impeached and no one should ever vote for him again and any other political criticism you can think of. You can call him arrogant and insensitive and vindictive and small-minded and incompetent. What you can't do is call the mayor a fucking son of a whore, for example. He can press libel charges against you if you do. And, of course, you can't threaten him--we don't know whether Del Llano's original e-mail contained threats, or statements that could be interpreted as threats, or not.

So here are the problems with Del Llano's accusations:

First, he is our only source; we have no outside confirmation that he has been charged with anything, except for the summons that he sent to Barcepundit. This story hasn't appeared in the press, and it's a good story, so you'd think they'd be all over it. If this happened to me, first thing I'd do is get a lawyer, and second thing I'd do is call a press conference.

Second, assuming the summons is real, we're not sure whether he has been charged with "supporting Israel," or whether he has been charged with some other crime, such as libel or making threats. Del Llano admitted to Barcepundit that his original e-mail included unspecified insults, and he hasn't made that e-mail public yet.

My guess is that Del Llano's claims are largely bogus.

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