The first known individual to fall foul of Spain’s controversial new “gag law” has spoken out against what he sees as the repression of free speech after he received a fine for describing his local police force as "slackers" on Facebook.
Eduardo Diaz, a 27-year-old salesman from Tenerife in the Canary Islands, told the newspaper El Mundo that the comment he posted on his mayor’s Facebook page about the decision to provide the local police force with a new and larger headquarters was “just a criticism, not an insult. I get the impression that they are trying to silence the voice of critical citizens”.
Spain’s citizens’ safety law came into effect on July 1 after the conservative Popular Party (PP) government used its parliamentary majority to pass the legislation in the face of harsh criticism from other parties and civil society groups.
The law allows for fines of up to €600,000 ($657,750 / £424,000) for a variety of public order offenses, such as unlicensed demonstrations outside a parliament building, inciting an unauthorized protest online and showing disrespect to the police.
In his July 22 Facebook comment, Mr. Diaz criticized the use of public resources on a brand new police station in the town of Guimar, stating that the local force was a 'pack of slackers.' But local police officers wasted no time in reacting, ringing Mr Diaz’s doorbell six hours later to present him with the notification of a fine which will be set at between €100 and €600 ($110 and $660 / £70 and £420).
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