Spain’s attempt to have the Catalan leadership returned to them by the Belgian government began today, with President Carles Puigdemont and several others turning themselves in to Belgian officials, and being released shortly thereafter pending a extradition hearing.
On October 1, Catalonia held a referendum in which an overwhelming majority supported independence from Spain. Independence was declared later in October, but after Spain’s takeover, much of the leadership fled to Belgium.
Spain wants them extradited for sedition for declaring independence, but the process is likely to take months. Catalan officials have so far not specifically sought political asylum in Belgium, but have acted as a government-in-exile.
The leaders have been released but can’t leave Belgium until the extradition hearing is over. Polls suggest that Catalonia is likely to re-elect the pro-independence coalition in Spain-mandated snap elections next month, though Spain has suggested that those jailed for sedition won’t be allowed to run.