LONDON (Reuters) - Scotland's most ancient university has thrown its weight behind one of its academics, a former Catalan separatist politician who is fighting extradition to Spain on charges of rebellion.
The prestigious University of St Andrews said it believed that Professor Clara Ponsati, a former education minister in Catalonia's separatist regional government, was being targeted for her political beliefs.
On Monday her lawyer said she would fight the extradition order, arguing that she was unlikely to get a fair trial in Spain.
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The case is being closely watched in Scotland, where the pro-independence devolved government has expressed fresh support for Catalonia's right to self-determination but has said it will respect the judicial process.
"As her employer and an institution committed to the defense of free speech, we are deeply concerned by recent developments, their motives and potential consequences," St. Andrews said in a statement.
"We believe there are legitimate arguments that Clara is being targeted for standing up for her political beliefs."
(Reporting by Elisabeth O'Leary, editing by Estelle Shirbon)