LAWYER Aamer Anwar, who is representing Clara Ponsati, the former Catalan education minister battling to avoid extradition to Spain from Scotland, said the response to a weekend TV interview he did with a station in Catalonia was “tremendous”.

Anwar appeared on the Frequently Asked Questions programme on TV3 on Saturday night – head-to-head with the Eurovision Song Contest – and was watched by around two million people, with many more viewing the interview online and more than 1.5m taking part on social media.

Ponsati is due back in court in Edinburgh tomorrow for a procedural hearing. Anwar lodged their draft legal argument last Friday, which challenges the validity of a European Arrest Warrant, alleges human rights abuses, and raises questions over Ponsati’s “political prosecution” and her right to a fair trial.

Speaking to The National from Barcelona, Anwar said the St Andrews University academic was on the whole bearing up well under the strain. He said: “She’s resolute, she’s determined to fight but there are dark and upsetting moments.

“Technically, she is a political exile for the rest of her life. She loves Scotland, but she wants to be able to come home to Barcelona again.

“Her mother, who’s 91, resides in Barcelona; it’s the anniversary this week of the death of her older son who died from cancer several years ago; Clara’s younger son, who’s 21, lives in Catalonia.”

Anwar added: “Clara says she carried out her duty for the people of Catalonia and of course she wants to be able to return home one day and that can only happen if the Spanish government relents and moves towards a negotiated settlement.”

Anwar said he did not want to interfere in internal political processes, but it was understandable that one of the demands of the independence movement was the unconditional release and return to Catalonia of all politicians who were in custody or in exile. “During the programme, one of the Spanish journalists attacked me and I said one of the things we’re seeing is shades of Francoism – it’s almost as though the ghost of Franco is dictating to the Spanish government on how to try to crush the will of the Catalan people.

“Everybody I’ve met – and the response has been amazing from the moment I stepped off at the airport and people were coming up to me saying they wanted to thank the people of Scotland, the Scottish Government and the people for their tremendous response.

“I’ve never seen anything like it – overwhelming support from people here who are so grateful to Scotland for standing shoulder to shoulder with Clara.”

The Glasgow University rector added that Spanish authorities appeared to be trying to “water down” the charges against his client to sedition, or charges that could be punished by 12-25 years in prison rather than 30 years, which he said was “unacceptable”.

“It appears to me the Spanish authorities are trying to shift the goalposts because they’re scared of losing,” said Anwar.

“It would appear that Spain stands accused of abusing the European Arrest Warrant and using it as a tool of repression, but they are in shock because what they appear to have done is utilised the arrest warrant; it has backfired in various jurisdictions across Europe and they are trying to fit a piece of the jigsaw that doesn’t fit, and are trying to water down the charges to get Puigdemont and his colleagues back to Spain to stand trial.”

Meanwhile, Quim Torra – a close ally of exiled former president Carles Puigdemont – is set to become the new Catalan president today after the left-wing Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) said it would abstain from the vote rather than block his election.

In the first voting round, CUP abstained and, after a group meeting yesterday, maintained that stance, despite a feeling the coalition’s social agenda and plan for independence was not ambitious enough.

A vote against Torra might have triggered an election as the deadline to form a new government is May 22.