Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Press Release

Six months ago IBO sent out this press release about the arrest of Basque journalist and politician Xarlo Etxezaharetta: Basque Journalist Snatched Off The Street. Here is a little update.

Yesterday, the Audencia Nacional decreed that Xarlo and three other members of the political federation Udalbiltza, Loren Arkotxa, Miren Josu Aranburu and Imanol Esnaola, will be released from prison upon posting bail. We are extremely happy that these men and women will finally be released from prison and we fully expect that they will be found innocent of charges when their trials do come up in the next year or so. The question is, why did it take six months and more for these people to be released from prison? Maybe now that actual ETA members are being captured, the authorities decided to release some of the innocent prisoners? Maybe under the new government, the authorities are trying to send a message that they can be a little more reasonable? Who knows...this is all conjecture.

I would also like to remind you of the tragic case of Ainara Gorostiaga who was just released from prison this past week after serving 2 years for a crime she did not commit. For two years she proclaimed her innocence and declared that her confessions and testimony given against several other people were tortured out of her. For two years the authorities ignored her pleas, claiming she was just following the ETA handbook by claiming torture. Then, a real member of ETA, Ibon Fernandez-Irati, was captured and in his papers were the accounts of the killing that Ainara was accused of, accounts which proved her innocence and the innocence of those she implicated under torture. Ainara was immediately set free.

You would think that the human rights organizations in Spain would be outraged. There has been no comment. You would think that a story like this would be front page news. Spanish newspapers have not carried the story; only Basque newspapers.

Perhaps an American newspaper will do what the Spanish papers won't?

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