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Fugitive Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont officially denied entry into Canada

Fugitive Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont has been officially refused entry into Canada because he is wanted in Spain on possible charges of sedition and misuse of public funds, his Montreal-based lawyer said Tuesday.

Stéphane Handfield said an immigration official denied the Catalan leader’s Electronic Travel Authorization, which is required for European visitors to Canada. Handfield said he will contest the decision in federal court.

Puigdemont had been trying to enter Canada for months at the invitation of a Quebec nationalist and separatist group.

“The (immigration) agent arrived to the conclusion that there are reasonable motives to believe that, given the pending charges in Spain against Mr. Puigdemont following the 2017 referendum, he would be forbidden on Canadian territory,” Handfield said in an interview.

Catalan pro-independence protesters march, some of them holding a photo of Catalan activist Carles Puigdemont, during a demonstration in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. (Emilio Morenatti/The Associated Press)

International arrest warrant

A Spanish Supreme Court judge on Oct. 14. issued an international arrest warrant for Puigdemont following the sentencing of 12 of his pro-Catalonian independence colleagues.

Puigdemont has so far avoided extradition from Germany and Belgium, where he fled at the end of 2017, following a failed attempt to declare independence in the wealthy region.

Pro-independence protestors took to the streets of Barcelona earlier this month to express their anger with the treatment of Catalan separatist leaders over their role in the 2017 Catalan independence referendum.

The Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste, the group that invited Puigdemont to Canada, said it was “scandalized” by the decision to deny the separatist leader entry into the country.

Quebec Premier François Legault said he didn’t understand the federal government’s decision.

“I am still perplexed,” Legault said in Quebec City. “I would like the Canadian government to explain why it refuses to give this visa.”

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