Nine pardoned pro-independence Catalan leaders walk free

MADRID (AP) — Nine separatists pardoned by the Spanish government have left the prisons where they were serving lengthy terms for organizing a bid for an independent northeastern Catalonia region nearly four years ago. They were greeted by cheering supporters and relatives. One defiantly claimed that “nothing has ended” and that “prison does not scare us, it reinforces our ideas.” Despite polls showing that many people in Spain are against the pardons, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez argued that they are popular in Catalonia and that freeing the separatists will be a fresh start for relations between central and regional authorities. The political divisions were on full display at the nation’s parliament Wednesday, where the prime minister faced calls to resign.