Carles Puigdemont and Catalan advisers freed by Belgian authorities

Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and four ex-advisers have been released by Belgian authorities after they handed themselves over to police as Spain seeks their return.

A judge in Brussels ruled on Sunday there was no reason to imprison the five politicians, and freed them pending a court session in two weeks.

Earlier, Puigdemont and four aides turned themselves into Belgian authorities after Madrid issued European Arrest Warrants last week.

Despite Puigdemont's exile, his party put him forward as their leader for the forthcoming regional elections, meaning he could lead a campaign from Brussels as he fights his extradition.

Spain has sought charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement against the men after the now-dissolved Catalan cabinet declared independence from Spain.

It follows a referendum in Catalonia at the start of October in which people voted in favour of independence, although the ballot was boycotted by pro-union voters.

Puigdemont fled to Belgium after Madrid removed the region's semi-autonomous powers, and has refused to return unless guaranteed a fair trial.