LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn came under fire last night for ignoring a letter urging him to show concern for the plight of Catalan political prisoners in jail for over a year.

The 200 signatories – including some of Catalonia’s most prestigious writers, musicians and academics, as well as relatives of the prisoners – wrote to Corbyn a month ago, but have yet to receive even an acknowledgement.

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They said they had written to him because “we know of your long-standing and passionate commitment to human rights and civil liberties”.

The writers highlight the plight of prisoners such as Jordi Cuixart, president of Europe’s largest cultural organisation, Òmnium Cultural, and Jordi Sánchez, former president of Catalonia’s largest social movement, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), who have been in jail awaiting trial for a year.

“Until July they were held in a prison outside Madrid over 500 kilometres from Barcelona,” they wrote.

The National:

Prisoner Jordi Cuixart faces up to 30 years behind bars

“For Jordi Cuixart’s partner and baby son that involved a 1000-kilometre round journey once a week to meet him for 40 minutes behind a plastic screen.

"One hour face-to-face meetings, the only times in which Cuixart was able to embrace his son, were allowed twice a month … Jordi and the others were transferred to Catalan jails following the appointment of Pedro Sánchez’s new government.

"Yet even now the Spanish Government says it has no political prisoners.”

The letter said the prisoners could be jailed for up to 30 years, amid concerns that their judges will include people appointed by the previous government of Mariano Rajoy: “The lack of judicial independence in Spain is a concern for human rights and legal organisations.

"As someone who has a close understanding of Spanish affairs, and who spoke out against the violence deployed by the Spanish national police last October… we are not asking you to support Catalan independence, but to express your concerns about the treatment of these prisoners in preventive custody and the nature of the charges they are facing.”

English author Matthew Tree, who also writes in Catalan, spent a considerable amount of time gathering the signatures, and told The National: “Whereas it is perfectly understandable that he is busy with Brexit and other matters, I would have thought that a short statement concerning this breach of human and civil rights (it is not a question of being for or against Catalan independence) would be doable.

“Given Jeremy Corbyn’s records on human rights issues, I confess – and I’m sure I’m not the only one – that I don’t understand his silence.”

Labour’s press office did not respond to our request for comment.