Spanish government pardons nine Catalan separatists

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The Spanish government has formally pardoned nine Catalan separatists who were convicted over a failed independence bid in 2017.

The leaders were imprisoned after being found guilty of sedition in 2019. Three others were convicted of disobedience but not jailed at the same time.

The pardons have sparked controversy in Spain and tens of thousands protested against the decision this month.

But the government argues the move will help calm tensions over Catalonia.

The semi-autonomous region’s drive for independence almost four years ago plunged Spain into its biggest political crisis in 40 years.

The prisoners’ release may take up to several days, as the pardons must first be signed by the king and published in the country’s official gazette.