MADRID (Reuters) - Five men cleared of the gang rape of a teenager in a case that provoked mass protests across Spain were granted on Thursday provisional release from prison, a judicial source said.
A court in the northern region of Navarra had cleared the men - who joked about the 2016 incident afterwards on a Whatsapp group called "The Wolf Pack" - of rape and convicted them of the lesser crime of sexual abuse.
The judicial source said the five men would be released on bail by Friday, a move that led to calls for renewed protests.
The decision to release the men after almost two years in jail was based on a legal technicality. Their conviction is not yet final because prosecutors have appealed to a higher court, but under Spanish law people cannot usually be held for more than two years without a definitive sentence being handed down.
All five men, who include a former policeman and a former soldier, have to pay 6,000 euros (£5,260) in bail.
A spokesman for the court did not respond to requests for comment.
Feminist groups called on Twitter for a demonstration to be held on Thursday in Pamplona, the capital of Navarra, and on Friday in Madrid against "patriarchal justice". Thousands took to the streets after the sentence was announced in April.
(Reporting by Jesús Aguado and Isla Binnie; editing by David Stamp)