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Spain asks Finland to arrest exiled Catalan leader

By
Susan McFarland
Former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont arrives at Copenhagen Airport, Dernmark, Jan. 22, 2018. Spanish authorities on Friday asked officials in Finland to launch an extradition process targeting Puigdemont, accused of rebellion for holding an illegal referendum in a push to break away from Spain last year. Photo by Tariq Mikkel Khan/EPA-EFE
Former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont arrives at Copenhagen Airport, Dernmark, Jan. 22, 2018. Spanish authorities on Friday asked officials in Finland to launch an extradition process targeting Puigdemont, accused of rebellion for holding an illegal referendum in a push to break away from Spain last year. Photo by Tariq Mikkel Khan/EPA-EFE

March 24 (UPI) -- Spanish authorities on Friday asked officials in Finland to launch an extradition process targeting exiled Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont.

Charges against the former president, whose whereabouts are unknown, were filed by a Spanish Supreme Court judge. Finland's National Bureau of Investigation is cooperating with the request.

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Puigdemont is one of several Catalan separatist leaders accused of rebellion for holding a referendum in a push to break away from Spain last year.

After that declaration in October, Puigdemont fled to Brussels where he has remained in self-imposed exile and has since toured Europe to meet with allies and leaders.

Puigdemont, charged with sedition, said he will not return to Spain unless a fair trial is guaranteed.

Puigdemont was in Finland for a week-long tour and on Monday, he is due to visit the Finnish Parliament. Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen said Puigdemont is likely still in Finland. One of the Catalan leader's hosts during Puigdemont's stay, Mikko Kärnä, said he left the country Friday evening.

Under the Spanish Supreme Court ruling, Catalan leaders will be tried for rebellion, embezzlement or disobeying the state. Punishment could include up to 30 years in prison.

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