During an interview recorded last week that was broadcast Wednesday on German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle, Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell became increasingly irritated by the questions posed by veteran British journalist Tim Sebastian.
Sebastian, a former BBC foreign correspondent and host of the show “Conflict Zone” broadcast on the station's English-language arm, said there were “serious questions and doubts” about the way Spain's judicial system works.
He added that the decision to remand in custody the former speaker of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadell, before the start of her trial over her role in Catalonia's failed independence bid in 2017 seemed like “the action of a vindictive State setting up to punish defendants who should be enjoying this presumption of innocence.”
Borrell, a former European parliament president, replied by accusing Sebastian of being “very much biased” and repeating several times that Spain's judiciary is independent.
“Stop it, you are continuously lying. Stop this record, I don't want to do that anymore,” he finally said before getting up and walking away.
Subtítulado en castellano: Los 2 minutos más surreales de la entrevista desastrosa de Josep Borrell con @dw_conflictzone.
Borrell regaña al periodista por decir que Forcadell no ha sido condenada, le llama mentiroso por citar el CIS y abandona la entrevista.
— Joe Brew (@joethebrew) March 28, 2019
Deutsche Welle said that after “a short discussion with his aides” Borrell returned to finish the interview.
Video clips of Borrell's outburst went viral on social media on Thursday in Spain, with opinion divided as to whether he was right to walk out of the interview.
Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo defended Borrell during an interview with Spanish public television TVE.
“The prestige of our democracy, or our justice is at stake,” Calvo said, adding the Catalan independence movement “spread constant lies” throughout the world “to damage Spain's image”.
“A member of the Spanish government has to say 'enough',” the deputy prime minister added.
Twelve Catalan leaders including Forcadell have been on trial at Madrid's Supreme Court in Madrid since February over an independence referendum that was held on October 1, 2017 despite a court ban, as well as a short-lived declaration of independence that followed.
Many separatists are convinced that their leaders were jailed for political reasons and will not have a fair trial.
Watch the full interview below::