Sacked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and former members of the Government of Catalonia Clara Ponsati and Meritxell Borras attend a news conference in Brussels. Photo: Reuters/Yves Herman

Following Madrid’s move to remove Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont and dismiss the region’s government on Friday, the independence leader has appeared in Brussels this week as Spain seeks criminal charges against him.

“I am not asking anything of the Belgian government,” the Financial Times reported Puigdemont as saying in response to speculation he was seeking political asylum. “It is obvious that there is empathy in some parts of Belgian politics, but we are not here to do Belgian politics.”

The ousted leader said he was not looking to avoid legal proceedings launched by Spanish prosecutors, El Pais reports, but that he would not return to Spain unless he was “given guarentees” that he would receive fair treatment.

“We have never abandoned the [Catalan regional] government. More than that, we will continue working,” he said, urging the Catalan people to prepare “for a long road ahead.”

Charges being pursued by the Spanish government against Puigdemont include rebellion, sedition and misappropriation of public funds, according to the Wall Street Journal. If convicted of rebellion, Catalan leaders could face up to 30 years in prison.

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