SPAIN has suffered its second setback in as many days after a European committee called on it to release Catalonia’s jailed independence leaders and withdraw extradition requests for those in exile – including former president Carles Puigdemont and ex-ministers Clara Ponsati and Toni Comin.

It came after an EU court yesterday decided to temporarily restore the immunity of Puigdemont, Ponsati and Comin after MEPs voted to accede to a request from Spain’s Supreme Court to lift the privilege.

Now a draft report from the Council of Europe’s (CoE) Committee on Legal Affairs has warned: “The mere expression of pro-independence opinions is not a reason for criminal prosecution.”

It urges Spain to avoid “disproportionate sentences for non-violent infringements”, and to stop prosecuting people for showing solidarity with the jailed and exiled leaders –former president Quim Torra was sacked from office last year for hanging from public buildings yellow ribbons and banners in solidarity with them.

Spain, however, has tried to spin the report differently, and said the entire text is based on an “erroneous” approach by presuming the political prisoners were prosecuted for expressing their ideas in the performance of their duties.

READ MORE: Catalan MEPs have no plans to reenter Spain despite regaining immunity – for now

Moncloa – Spain’s equivalent of No 10 – said this prejudice “contaminates” the report and is reflected in its resolution and recommendations.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s team believes the report “endorses” Spain’s actions.

The CoE report also calls on Spanish authorities to reform the crimes of rebellion and the more serious sedition, for which nine politicians and grassroots leaders were jailed for between nine and 13 years for their part in the October 2017 independence referendum.