Catalan leader speaks for first time since warrants lifted

MarketsAssociated Press

Catalonia's secessionist leader says that he and four of his closest allies will stay in Belgium for the foreseeable future even though Spain has lifted the international arrest warrants against them.

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Carles Puigdemont said Wednesday that even if they are allowed to walk free in Belgium they could still be detained if they return to Spain where there is a rebellion and sedition case pending against them.

Puigdemont said that because of that "for the moment we plan to stay here," possibly until after the Dec. 21 regional election which will be a key factor in Catalonia drive from independence from Spain. They were Puigdemont's first comments since the warrants were dropped.

The five have been in Belgium since Oct. 30 and campaigning from a distance for the election.