SPAIN has pursued him for three years claiming he glorified terrorism in his lyrics, but a Belgian court has thrown out the extradition case against exiled Catalan rapper Valtonyc.

The musician, whose real name is Josep Miquel Arenas, who was sentenced to three and a half years in prison, was also convicted of insulting the Spanish crown, but the appeal court in Ghent has dismissed the latest attempt to extradite him.

Following his conviction in 2018, Valtonyc fled Catalonia, saying he “would not make it easy” for Spanish authorities to jail him.

On leaving the Belgian court, he said he was “happy” on a personal level but also felt “very angry and very helpless” for his fellow artists who are serving prison time in Spain over the contents of their lyrics.

He said: “The court has ruled that my case … is in line with freedom of expression. I feel powerless and angry, but I will continue to fight for that right.

“The Spanish government, which claims to be the most progressive in history, continues to have a fascist state. If Spain is a fascist state and is in the 18th century, it is because it wants to be.”

Simon Bekaert, Valtonyc’s lawyer, said the court’s ruling was “a good day for music and freedom of expression”.

He added: “Victory … after three years of legal procedures, a detour to the European Court of Justice and to the Belgian Constitutional Court, the Court of Appeal rules that Valtonyc cannot be extradited.”

This ruling should mark the end of the saga, although it could end up at the Court of Cassation, the main court of “last instance” in Belgium.

However, this body would only review the formal issue of the lawfulness of the appeal court’s decision and not review the facts, or merits of the case.

The Ghent court which dealt with Spain's extradition request, had asked the Belgian Constitutional Court more than a year ago if the rapper’s case was covered by freedom of expression.

In September 2018, a Belgian court rejected Spain’s first request to extradite the singer.

The appeal court in Ghent then took the matter to the EU's Court of Justice, asking if Valtonyc could be extradited for glorifying terrorism. However, that court said he could not.

As a result of the rapper's case, Belgium’s Constitutional Court struck down the country's own law against slandering the monarch – which dated back to 1847 – in October.

This had allowed for sentences of up to up to three years for insulting the royal family, but was seen as a violation of the right to freedom of expression and against the European Convention on Human Rights.

The exiled former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont was the first to celebrate the Spanish justiciary’s latest defeat in the case.

Puigdemont tweeted: “Today, more than any other day, freedom has the rhythm and lyrics of rap.

“When justice prevails, freedom is strengthened.”

Scottish lawyer Aamer Anwar added: ‘A good day for Music & Freedom of Expression’ thanks to lawyer @Simonbekaert as Catalan rapper @valtonyc wins in Court of Appeal & Spain once more denied extradition for artist who faced 3.5 years prison for glorifying terrorism & insulting the monarchy.”