Ex-Catalan chief Puigdemont returns to Belgium from Germany

Ex-Catalan chief Puigdemont returns to Belgium from Germany
FILE - In this April 18, 2018 file photo, former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont attends a meeting with lawmakers of his party, Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia), in Berlin, Germany. A Spanish Supreme Court judge has dropped his extradition requests for six Catalan separatist politicians wanted on rebellion charges. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn,file)

BRUSSELS (AP) — Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has returned to Belgium to drum up support for Catalonia’s separatist movement after Spain’s bid to extradite him on rebellion charges from Germany failed.

Puigdemont arrived in Brussels on Saturday morning and shook hands with the current regional president of Catalonia, Quim Torra, who had traveled from Spain to meet his predecessor.

Puigdemont fled Spain in October following an illegal and ineffective declaration of independence by secessionist lawmakers in northeastern Catalonia.

He had been in Germany since March when he was arrested on a Spanish warrant while traveling in car from Finland back to Belgium.

But a Spanish judge withdrew the international warrant for Puigdemont after a German court refused to extradite him for rebellion.

Puigdemont can be arrested, however, if he returns to Spain.