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MONTREAL: Catalonia's former president Carles Puigdemont was denied entry into Canada in March, when he was invited by a Quebec separatist group, the Canadian lawyer challenging the decision said Monday.

"We are challenging this decision, which is obviously unreasonable," his lawyer Stephane Handfield, who has appealed the decision in federal court, told AFP.

He said Puigdemont had requested and obtained an electronic authorization (eTA) in February to travel to Canada, required for travelers from visa-exempt nations.

Puigdemont was scheduled to land on April 2 in Montreal, but an immigration official sent him an email on March 31 "informing him that his eTA had been revoked, without explanation," Handfield said.

A Canadian government official said politics played no part in the decision.

The main figure behind Catalonia's secession attempt in 2017, Puigdemont subsequently fled prosecution in Spain. He currently lives in Belgium.

The move to ban him from Canada was denounced as "shameful" by the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society, a group that promotes Quebec independence. It had invited him to tour the Canadian province.

Ottawa declined to comment on the individual case, citing privacy laws.

"A person can be found inadmissible for criminality, a serious health problem, lying in his application or during an interview," a government spokesman said, speaking in general terms.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Press), 2019
 

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