Spain |Report

Political tension in Belgium mounts as Puigdemont is released

Talk (15)


Sarah Braun

"In case there are questions, here's t..."

Clive Tabraham

"Pete, I've emailed you. Clive"
Pete Young

Pete Young

"Make that “backread.”"
Pete Young

Pete Young

"Clive, looks like someone else gave i..."

When deposed separatist leader Carles Puigdemont sent this tweet, shortly after he was released on bail earlier this week, his words added to the political turmoil which has gripped Belgian politics. In translation, the tweet says “Free and without bail. Our thoughts are with the comrades unjustly jailed by a state that strays far from democratic practices.” 

Puigdemont’s presence in Belgium has caused problems for the government of Prime Minister Charles Michel, who rules in a coalition with Flemish separatists, who are sympathetic to the cause of Catalonian independence.

On Sunday, the Minister of the Interior, Jan Jambon, of the New Flemish Alliance party (N-VA), expressed sympathy for Catalonia’s pro-independence politicians. In an interview on Belgian television channel VTM, he said: “… what did they do wrong? They simply applied their voters’ mandate.”

On October 29, the secretary of State for Asylum, Migration and Administrative Simplification, Theo Francken, said that “Catalans who feel politically threatened can apply for asylum in Belgium. This includes the minister-president Puigdemont.”

The position of the deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs and European affairs, Didier Reynders, is rather different. On Monday, he was quoted by Belgian daily Le Soir as saying that “certain politicians “[thought] they [could] have an influence” on events in Spain. Reynders says he has been in contact with Spanish foreign minister Alfonso Dastis “since the referendum” in Catalonia.

On Monday, Reynders urged his colleagues to keep out of the Catalan crisis. This followed calls from some senior figures in Belgian politics for Michel to do more to keep Puigdemont and his former ministers out of jail.

The prosecutor’s spokeperson, Ine Van Wymersch, defended the independence of the judiciary in releasing Puigdemont: “We can confirm again that yesterday there was not one single political contact and not one single contact between the political authorities and the judicial authorities. The judge is independent and took his decision in all independence, and there was no political influence.”

So, what now? According to AFP, Puigdemont’s case will be heard by a judge on November 17 who will then decide on his possible extradition to Spain. If Puigdemont loses, he will have the right to appeal and be heard again within 15 days.

Started by

Fabio De Ponte is an Italian journalist based in Brussels. He used to work as editor at Rome headquarters of Italian national news agency LaPresse. He has been working also for Italian agencies Adn Kronos, Askanews and La Stampa newspaper. He covered many international summits (G7/G8/G20), European Councils (on Brexit, Greece, migrants, Turkey, Ukraine), bilateral meetings of Italian PM abroad (Washington, Tokyo, Berlin, Paris, among other capitals), a UN General Assembly and other international events. He also reported from the Italian-led military base in Herat, Afghanistan. For almost an year he supervised updating the LaPresse's website and social media accounts. Also, developed "Joshua Twitter Scanner" (, a tool that monitors variuos Twitter profiles and sends short news stories ready to be published to the newswire’s supervisors’ desk. Twitter: @fabiodeponte

History for stories "Political tension in Belgium mounts as Puigdemont is released"

Select two items to compare revisions

17 November 2017

17:57:53, 17 Nov 2017 . .‎ Sarah Braun (Updated → date correction to November 17)

12 November 2017

02:15:25, 12 Nov 2017 . .‎ Fabio De Ponte (Updated → Franken's quote corrected: deleted square brackets and put correct link)

10 November 2017

16:37:10, 10 Nov 2017 . .‎ Clive Tabraham (Updated → edit)
16:29:46, 10 Nov 2017 . .‎ Clive Tabraham (Updated → ,)
16:20:25, 10 Nov 2017 . .‎ Clive Tabraham (Updated → edit)

09 November 2017

12:27:46, 09 Nov 2017 . .‎ Burhan Wazir (Updated → Editing)
12:05:58, 09 Nov 2017 . .‎ Fabio De Ponte (Updated → Added links to interviews)
11:47:16, 09 Nov 2017 . .‎ Burhan Wazir (Updated → Editing)
08:31:57, 09 Nov 2017 . .‎ Peter Bale (Updated → Added tags and selected category)
08:30:36, 09 Nov 2017 . .‎ Peter Bale (Updated → Saving to Pending for Jodie to publish)

08 November 2017

17:56:55, 08 Nov 2017 . .‎ Peter Bale (Updated → HOLD for checks)
17:56:24, 08 Nov 2017 . .‎ Peter Bale (Updated → Published)

06 November 2017

19:06:43, 06 Nov 2017 . .‎ Fabio De Ponte (Updated → First draft)

Talk for Story "Political tension in Belgium mounts as Puigdemont is released"

Talk about this Story

  1. Rewrite

    Would be worth saying in the opening para what region Puigdemont is the deposed separatist leader of. Catalonia is mentioned for the first time in para 3. Otherwise it assumes that the reader has been following the Catalonia story and knows who Piugdemont is.

  2. Rewrite

    Are you able to approve my edits to this story or not?

    1. Rewrite

      Hi, Clive – I just saw your note. I apologize for the delay. Still want me to take a look?

      1. Rewrite

        Clive, looks like someone else gave it a backroad. Thanks for asking.

    2. Rewrite

      Clive, looks like someone else gave it a backroad. Thanks for asking.

        1. Rewrite
  3. Rewrite

    Folks, the rendering of a comment in the third paragraph of this story violated our guidelines: words in quotes must be exactly what the person said. We do not change them for any reason.

    We wrote:

    On October 29th, the secretary of State for Asylum, Migration and Administrative Simplification Theo Francken said that “Catalans who [felt] politically threatened [could] apply for asylum in Belgium. This [included] the minister-president Puigdemont.”

    This is what was actually said, according to the link we cited:

    “Catalan people who feel politically threatened can ask for asylum in Belgium. That includes President Puigdemont.”

    (Notice that we also introduced an error in the quote, changing “ask” to “apply.” The two are not synonymous.)

    To reiterate: We don’t change words within quote marks for any reason. Full stop. And the words must be exactly what was said. If we’re going to quote someone, we have a duty to be precise.

    This needs a correction.

    1. I don’t think he was speaking in English and now was the author a native English speaker. I don’t believe the quote changes the sense of what we are representing as a translation. No?

      1. Rewrite

        No. First of all, the website we linked to, with the quote, was in English. That’s how I could compare the two quotes. So the issue is not one of translation.

        If we change the wording of a quote, what else might we have changed? What does that do to our credibility?

        (Another way to look at it: if we mess up something as simple as cutting and pasting the words from a statement, what else are we getting wrong?)

        The question of whether the meaning was changed puts us on a slippery slope. Who decides how much is too much?

        No. Quotes must be inviolable. The only reason for readers to trust us is because we tell the truth. That includes faithfully reporting the words within quotation marks.

        One last quibble: This was a self-inflicted wound and completely unnecessary. There was no grammatical reason to change the tense.

        1. Rewrite

          The explanation for the apply/ask mismatch is that I linked the wrong article. The Francken’s quote was on lots of articles, I took it from the Telegraph ( but then I linked Politico, that had the same quote. The speaker is not an English speaker, so the original sentence was translated and that’s why it is slightly different on different sources.
          Apart from that, the changes – made for concordance needs – where well evident as they were signalled in square brackets, so I do not think we betrayed the trust of the reader. I understand this is not a practice approved at WT, I won’t repeat it.

  4. I uploaded a video to Youtube and then linked it in the article. Is there a way to publish it within the story?

    1. Rewrite

      Fabio, I have edited and published your piece. Can you please add links to the interviews which currently don’t have any? Thanks.

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