The first known individual to fall foul of Spain’s controversial new “gag law” has spoken out against what he sees as the repression of free speech after he received a fine for describing his local police force as “slackers” on Facebook.

Eduardo Díaz, a 27-year-old salesman from Tenerife, told the newspaper El Mundo that the comment he posted on his mayor’s Facebook page about the decision to provide the local police force with a new and larger headquarters was “just a criticism, not an insult. I get the impression that they are trying to silence the voice of critical citizens”.

Spain’s citizens’ safety law came into effect on July 1 after the conservative Popular Party (PP) government used its parliamentary majority to pass the legislation in the face of harsh criticism from other parties and civil society groups.

The law allows for fines of up to €600,000 (£424,000) for a variety of public order offences, such as unlicensed demonstrations outside a parliament building, inciting an unauthorised protest online and showing disrespect to the police.

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