Teknofiloen albistegia

Egunkaria, the world's only Basque-language newspaper forced to close

Erabiltzailearen aurpegia
Sustatu - The Basque Country
2003-03-10 : 03:03

The only Basque-language newspaper of the world, Euskaldunon Egunkaria, has been closed. 10 people have been arrested by the Guardia Civil under the accusation of supporting an armed group. Among them, the director of Egunkaria, and several intellectuals and journalists well known and respected in the circles of Basque cultura and language-support groups. Allegations that these people and Egunkaria are "part of ETA´s terrorist band" are pure fabrications.

Sustatu.com is a Basque-language news weblog. However, we've started this English language thread for messages related to the closure of Euskaldunon Egunkaria. Also a special page about Egunkaria

Euskaldunon Egunkaria´s website (www.egunkaria.com) has also been shutdown, but journalists have joined to creare a substitute which is in the streets today (called, provisionally, Egunero, everyday ) and is also online at:

Other related links:


2003-02-21 : 14:54

We are promoting this campaign to denounce the closing of Egunkaria through internet to the whole world. Basque web users have published a web page denouncing the closing of Egunkaria here , and our goal is to make this page and Egunkaria´s new site be in a leading place when you search Egunkaria in Google . But to achieve this we need many people´s help, including yours.

What can you do to help the campaign?

  • Insert a link to the page and to Egunkaria´s new site in EVERY PAGE (or as much as possible) of your website (your personal site, your company´s, an association you collaborate with), using these pieces of code (they must be written exactly as they appear here):



  • If you want to put a banner in the links (for example this one), at least don't erase the text Egunkaria, and put an alt="Egunkaria" attribute to the image
  • Then add the main page of your site to the pages that Google indexes

  • So that we can know how the campaign is going on, write an e-mail to egunkaria@emun.com and tell us the site and the number of pages you´ve inserted the links

  • If you don´t have a website, you can still write to the address above to say that you agree with the denounce page

Let's make the injustice done to the Basque-language newspaper known to the whole world!

Take in mind that, in our community of 600,000 people (that´s the whole Basque-speaking population of the world), what happened is as if we wake up one morning, find out that the NYT and the Washington Post have been closed, plus Ben Bradley, Noam Chomsky and ten more have been arrested on terrorist charges... We feel like that.

2003-02-21 : 17:37

I read Egunkaria's website fairly often just to practice my Basque and see what is going on in my favorite part of the world, Euskadi.

I am not Basque, I live in the US, but I still enjoy reading Egunkaria. I hope that these allegations against the paper are not true. I also hope that the Spanish Government is not using the "War on Terror" as an excuse to attack Basque organizations. It strikes me as bizarre the Spanish Government's power to close political parties and newspapers...it sounds more like Iran than Europe.

I really hope that Egunkaria is innocent of aiding ETA in any way.

Houston, Texas EEBB

Joseba Etxarri
2003-02-21 : 17:39

This article on Egunkaria's shut down was published in the New York Times

Spain Shuts a Basque Newspaper, Accusing It of Aiding Separatists


MADRID, Feb. 20 — The Spanish police ordered a Basque-language newspaper to shut down today and arrested 10 members of its staff, including the editor, accusing them of helping the violent separatist group E.T.A. in its campaign for an independent Basque country.

The dawn arrests — carried out by 300 officers — and the closing of Euskaldunon Egunkaria, the only Spanish newspaper printed solely in Euskara, the Basque language, was part of a new government crackdown on E.T.A. and its supporters.

On Wednesday, the police detained 14 people accused of belonging to E.T.A., whose initials stand for Basque Homeland and Freedom in Euskara. On Tuesday, 10 youths were arrested and accused of taking part in the separatists' campaign of street violence.

The search warrants authorized by Judge Juan del Olmo accused the newspaper and its owners of "membership of the terrorist organization or collaboration with the terrorist organization E.T.A." It also said that E.T.A. "was involved in creating and invigorating Euskaldunon Egunkaria and in naming executives" for the newspaper as well as in financing it.

The accusations were strongly denied by the paper's deputy editor, Xabier Lekuona, who was not among those detained.

"There is absolutely no truth to this," he said in a telephone interview. "The paper is subsidized by the Basque government and we are audited by them every year. These are public accounts. There is no basis to the allegation that we are laundering money for E.T.A."

He said that many of those detained were respected members of the Basque news media and that the last big interview the paper carried was with Fernando Savater, a leading opponent of E.T.A. and of Basque separatism.

"From the beginning we have defended our editorial independence," Mr. Lekuona said. "Our aim has never been to support a political line but to publish in Euskara."

But the justice minister, José María Michavila, hailed this "new operation against E.T.A." He told state radio that "this time it is directed at those who, according to the judge, are instruments of E.T.A. and alert the terrorists each time there is an operation against a terrorist cell."

Egunkaria's editor, Martxelo Otamendi, was accused of "incitement to murder" last year after publishing an interview with E.T.A. members. Prosecutors linked the interview, published on June 6, 2001, to the killing of José Javier Múgica, a member of a local council, by E.T.A. in July.

But moderate nationalists were swift to defend Egunkaria.

Markel Olano of the Basque Nationalist Party, which runs the regional government and has provided almost $8 million in subsidies for the newspaper, described the operation as "an attack not only on Basque-language media but against the language itself and even Basque society."

The interior minister, Ángel Acebes, rejected such criticism, saying, "Those who say that this operation attacks freedom of expression and the Basque language are wrong because it actually defends the Basques' rights and freedoms."

The daily's staff of 150, who have received offers of help from most other Basque newspapers, plan to fight back by publishing a paper on Friday. "Our weapons have always been our words but today they used weapons to silence our words," Mr Lekuona said. "Our response will be to get the paper out on the streets tomorrow."

2003-02-21 : 18:15

The Basque newspaper Egunkaria closed down by the Spanish government - Fascism strikes back.

The Basque newspaper Egunkaria closed down by the Spanish government - Fascism strikes back.

Published by Euskalinfo in the U.K. (Euskalinfo: Box 19, 82 Colston St, Bristol BS1 5BB )

As well as the closure of Egunkaria's offices and printing press, ten
members of staff including director Martxelo Otamendi were arrested and
taken to Madrid. The staff of this newspaper has denied any link with ETA
and has defined the closure of the paper and their colleagues imprisonment
as a blatant injustice. A demonstration has already been called for this
Saturday coming. They have also stated their determination to carry on with
a Basque media project.

To this legal and police repression, once again we have to add the one
directed from the Spanish media. The right-wing paper El Mundo in his
front-page headlines presented the news as 'the detention of Egunkaria's
dome (leadership), a term only used to refer to terrorist groups
leaderships. This is the way they mislead information - a paper which links
is work to the progressist The Guardian. (see what Giles Tremlett says
tomorrow!). For the afternoon, El Mundo had changed its headlines on its

It's always very serious whenever a newspaper is closed down by a
as the media is vehicle of expression; and freedom of expression is one of
the fundamental rights of any so-called democracy. In this case, the
accusations against Euskaldunon Egunkaria are not related to its content,
but once again, this paper like Egin before, Ardibeltza and like many
organisms and projects, is linked to ETA by the Spanish government.

No matter the new Parties Law banning the Basque separatist party Euskal
Herritarrok: the Spanish government of Jose Maria Aznar through his
judge Garzon continues applying the 19/98 summary. This summary started in
1998 and which has seen nine different organizations intervened and 200
people arrested and imprisoned and aimed to end with any support ETA could
have in the population. The targeted groups were: the Basque language
teaching AEK, the paper and radio Egin, the magazine Ardibeltza, the
social-political organizations Ekin, Joxemi Zumalabe, ABK and Bai Euskal
Herriari , the Basque books and records distributors Zabaltzen, the youth
organization Haika and again its successor Segi, the Basque prisoner
organization Askatasuna (Gestoras pro-Amnistía), the party Batasuna and now
the paper Euskaldunon Egunkaria.

Euskaldunon Egunkaria was funded in 1990 as the only newspaper in the
Basque country printed entirely in the Basque Country and continuist of
recent weeklies like Hemen and Gaur , or Eguna (1937). In a country where
education and literacy were restricted to Spanish and French and where the
culture struggles with a market where the production of French and Spanish
magazines, newspapers and books is so massive, Egunkaria's project was
pretentious indeed. To this we have to add the continued refusal of the
Spanish government to support projects of this kind and the sabotage of the
regional Basque government aiming to produce their own paper - something
which never happened. But once again, Basques determination to keep their
culture and language alive showed its power and more than twelve years
this paper consolidated -still in a survivalist way. The project had to be
started by a group of 70 people and by raising between them 150 m pesetas
(nearly £ 6m ) selling shares and with fund-raisers. The initial
was just 11.200 becoming 44.000 by 1996 (we lack updated figures)

To think that this paper with such a small readership and budget would fund
ETA or anything else is laughable. To think that this paper was used by ETA
to transmit its program is laughable too as it has demonstrated to be
independent. But in the new PP's democracy, anyone by being Basque can be
accused of supporting ETA or Euskal Herritarrok, the political party also
banned by the Spanish government. This latest violation of democratic right
is an evidence of the fast grow of fascism within the Spanish government.

A similar action against this paper and its current director Martxelo
Otamendi happened last year whan the government try to prosecute both him
and Gara's director Mertxe Aizpurua for an interview held by both with two
ETA members. Both where called to declare in Madrid's high court. The
ignorance of the Spanish government and lack of respect for any initiative
to keep alive the Basque language is demonstrated once and again when the
government banned the school books published in Basque by saying that their
content is against the curriculum, and recently attacking the children
Basque magazine Kili-kili.

Kepa Korta ILCLI
2003-02-21 : 19:23

After the Spanish judicial and police attack against EUSKALDUNON EGUNKARIA (the only newspaper entirely written in Basque language) as well as against some other Basque cultural organizations, the Institute for Logic, Cognition, Language and Information (ILCLI) of the University of the Basque Country makes the following statement:

  1. EUSKALDUNON EGUNKARIA leads the fields of Basque communication companies and their cooperation with the university. Nowadays, the collaboration between EGUNKARIA and ILCLI consists in the organization of two postgraduate degrees and a University-Enterprise research project.

  2. The measures ordered by the Spanish National Court clearly violate the rights of freedom of speech, information and, specially, communication in Basque language. This is absolutely not acceptable in any democratic state.

For these reasons, we publicly demand:

  1. The immediate release of the 10 people who were arrested.

  2. The immediate re-opening of all the EGUNKARIA offices and premises.

  3. The support against such an attack of all political parties, trade unions, organizations and institutions that want to keep their democratic character intact.

Donostia, 20 February 2003

2003-02-21 : 19:43

BTW: One of the purposes of this thread and Sustatu's effort is to get pro-Egunkaria stances above Spanish govt. propaganda in Google and search engine results. There´s a coordinated effort behind this explained (in Basque) here.

Link towards http://www.sustatu.com/english/egunkaria to get English language results about Egunkaria go up at Google. Thanks.

Juan M Alberdi
2003-02-21 : 19:52

Today, February the 21st, the The Guardian newspaper correspondant Giles Tremlett sent his chronicle from Madrid "Spanish Police Shut Down Basque Paper", an example of how mainstream newspapers shape public opinion about Spain and their internal problems.

The basic implicit assumption is that Spain is a democracy, elections are held at regular periods of time, and that Spanish governments respect fully their citizens' civil rights, in particular the different national aspirations and cultures in its territory. Time and time again we have heard BBC correspondants starting their reports from Madrid claiming, but never probing it, that the Spanish Basque Country enjoyed the highest degree of autonomy not only in Spain but in Europe.

Well, as far as I'm concerned, a lecturer at University, I have to say that at difference with other European countries we still don't have a Basque University here, and research is regulated from Madrid. The self-named Basque Country University where I work is a Spanish University where Basques are just tolerated. Just mention that Basque people, by the only reason of defending their language or culture are treated as "he/she is very basque" that is, theirs not ours. And this in a society that pretends tolerant and, of course, not racist. And this, not in Sevilla but here in the Basque Country. By whom? Well, this could take very long. I'll stop here.

Back to Tremlett's report. We can read these paragraphs there

" ... its semi-autonomous government, which had been financing the daily paper..."

"The Basque regional government, an enthusiastic promoter of euskara and declared opponent of Eta, has sunk more than £5m into the paper. "

As for the "enthusiastic" adjective and the financing of the Egunkaria newspaper I think Mr Tremlett should read something about this paper history, because first Egunkaria was born despite and against the autonomous government politics of the time, and second he should compare the money Egunkaria and the others newspapers are receiving from the Basque Government.

Another paragraph that goes without any comment by Mr Tremlett is

"They must accept their political responsibility," said Jaime Mayor Oreja, the region's People's party leader.

Does this mean that Mr Tremlett accepts that in Egunkaria news, comments, opinion columns, or editorials can be interpreted as terrorism apology? Has Mr Tremlett ever read Egunkaria?

Another paragraph that goes without comment is

"Yesterday was not the first time Spanish courts had acted against Mr Otamendi. After publishing an interview with Eta's leadership last year he was placed under investigation for incitement to murder. "

Are here the British readers being led to conclude or suspect that Mr Otamendi is a non honorable person because he helps murderers? Who put him under investigation? What was the conclusion? Is it honest to write thinks this way?

The link to the report is


Iñaki & Sarah
2003-02-21 : 20:02

EUSKALDUNON EGUNKARIA (The Newspaper of the Basques) was created on December 6, 1990. Today it is the only newspaper published in Basque and is sold throughout the Basque Country, both in Iparralde and in Hegoalde (in the Southern as well as in the Northern Basque Country on each side of the Franco-Spanish border). It comes out six days a week from Tuesday to Sunday. It has an on-line version in Basque and includes a section in English.

EUSKALDUNON EGUNKARIA has developed considerably since it began when it had only 32 pages. Today it produces 60 pages in the daily edition, and if you take into account all the different products, it publishes 76 pages every day on average. EUSKALDUNON EGUNKARIA is a standard newspaper and offers its readers sections similar to other newspapers: Opinion, Basque Country Politics, Basque Country Society, Economy, Sports, Features, Services, Culture, Events and TV.

EUSKALDUNON EGUNKARIA has its headquarters in Andoain (Gipuzkoa) and local press offices in Iruñea (Pamplona), Baiona (Bayonne), Bilbo (Bilbao) and Gasteiz (Vitoria). It has a staff of 150.

The following people were arrested in the raid and are currently being held incommunicado:

  • Iñaki Uria, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Euskaldunon Egunkaria. Uria has a long history within the Basque cultural movement. He was part of the group that changed the old magazine Zeruko Argia into the modern Argia. He has taken part in the process of creating Egunkaria since its very beginning, and in December 1990, when it first appeared, he was appointed Vice-director and later Director. He later assumed the post of Managing Director, which he has held until now.

  • Martxelo Otamendi, Editor of Euskaldunon Egunkaria. He was a teacher and the Principal of the municipal Basque language school in Tolosa. He has worked in Basque Television and was the Director of the Egonean Giro show. He has been the Editor of the newspaper since 1993.

  • Juan Mari Torrealdai, Managing Director of Euskaldunon Egunkaria and Editor of the Basque literary magazine Jakin. He has been an active member of the cultural Basque movement since the sixties. He was a former Editor of the magazine Anaitasuna and an important figure in the Basque publishing world. At the end of the 70’s he published Euskal Idazleak Gaur (Basque Writers Today) and recently Euskal Kultura Gaur (Basque Culture Today).

  • Pello Zubiria, Vice-editor of the magazine Argia. Together with Iñaki Uria, he took part in the transformation of Zeruko Argia into Argia, and also took part in the creation Egunkaria, the first daily newspaper in Basque. He was the first Editor of the paper, he later went on to run Argia, which he recently left due to ill health.

  • Luis Goia. Cinema producer. He took part in Egunkaria Sortzen, the creation of Egunkaria, and was a member of its first Board of Directors. He was the producer of a number of films including “Off-eko maitasuna”, written and directed by Koldo Izagirre.

  • Fermin Lazkano, person in charge of the company Plazagunea, which provides computerised services for the Basque world. He was Managing Director of Euskaldunon Egunkaria at the beginning of the 90’s. Before that, he was a teacher in the AEK Basque language teaching organisation and held several posts in this organisation.

  • Inma Gomila. Member of Egunkaria Sortzen and first Managing Director of Euskaldunon Egunkaria.

  • Xabier Alegria. Member of the Udalbiltza assembly of elected municipal representatives of the whole of the Basque Country. He has been accused in the legal case of the newspaper “Egin”, another Basque newspaper that five years ago suffered the same fate as Euskaldunon Egunkaria yesterday, and in the case against “Ekin”.

  • Xabier Oleaga. He is in charge of External Communications of the Federation of Ikastolas or Basque-medium Schools. He was editor of Egin and later, in the mid 90’s, was appointed deputy editor of Egunkaria.

  • Txema Auzmendi. He is a Jesuit and Deputy Director of Radio Popular of San Sebastian. He was one of the promoters of the newspaper and he has been the Secretary of the Board of Directors since the beginning.

The Basque people created EUSKALDUNON EGUNKARIA with their ideas, work and money. It was created to fill a very important gap: the lack of a newspaper in the Basque language providing Basque people with all kinds of news every morning. The paper has been fulfilling this task for the past 13 years without missing a single day.

2003-02-21 : 20:46

The closure of the Basque language newspaper Egunkaria because of alleged links to the separatist
terror group ETA is a blow to press freedom in the Basque country of Spain said the International Federation of Journalists today.

The newspaper - the only Spanish daily in the Basque language - has vigorously denied tipping off
the terrorist group about police movements which the Interior Ministry says are why 300 Civil Guard
police arrested 10 people and closed the newspaper's offices in Andoain.

"When the only Basque language paper is closed like this it casts a shadow over press freedom within
the Basque language community," said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ, the world's largest
journalists' group. "Journalists on all sides of the community are concerned about the implications for
free journalism." A witness said the headquarters of the Basque language newspaper in Bilbao were
sealed off with police tape. Witnesses at the newspaper office in Andoain said police were taking
computers and other confiscated equipment out of the building. The closure is the latest action in a
three-day police sweep in the region, which has led to multiple arrests across the northern Basque
country. ETA, which has supporters in the area, is responsible for the deaths of more than 800 people
in a bombing and shooting campaign since 1968 to back its demands for an independent Basque

The group's main media supporter, the newspaper Egin, was closed down in 1998 but a number of
other sympathetic and pro-separatist publications have sprung up in its place. "Egunkaria is seen by
many as more independent than other journals which are sympathetic to Basque radicals," said Aidan
White, "at the same time there are concerns that this is an all-out assault on the Basque language,
one of Europe's oldest."

IFEX International Freedom of Expression eXchange
2003-02-21 : 21:08

The same it is denounced here by The International Freedom of Expression eXchange

The same it is denounced here by The International Freedom of Expression eXchange

Police close Basque-language daily

2003-02-22 : 08:38

Reporters Without Borders protested against the closure today of the Basque-language daily Euskaldunon Egunkaria and the arrest of 10 of its journalists and contributors on suspicion of "belonging to or working with the ETA terrorist organisation."

"The necessary and legitimate fight against terrorism must respect the principle of press freedom, which is at the core of any democracy," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to Spanish justice minister José-Maria Michavila.

"It is hardly the moment to close a newspaper when the courts have not yet ruled on the charges against its arrested journalists. We ask you to explain your decision, which seems hasty in the absence of clear evidence to back up what they are accused of."

A national judge ordered the arrest of the paper's senior staff, including publisher Martxelo Otamendi, and members of its board in Lezo, Bilbao, Andoain, Vitoria and Pamplona. Some branch offices were raided and material seized and those in Andoain, Pamplona and Bilbao were placed under seals.

The Basque separatist daily Egin and the radio station Egin-Irratia were temporarily closed in July 1998 on the orders of Judge Baltasar Garzon as part of a crackdown on ETA funding sources.


2003-02-22 : 09:19

The National Press Club of Washington DC published this commemorative poster, Darkest Page in American History, last year. It features 25 front pages from newspapers of all over the world. Egunkaria´s front page of Sep. 12, 2001, is #3 above. It reads "Erasoa EEBBei", Attack against the US.

The front page was apparently chosen for its visual impact. Someone responsible for the design told Egunkaria afterwards that they didn´t know which language was it, neither the country of origin. Yet, it was in Basque. The world´s outcry was heard (and printed) in our language also. And now? Aren´t we allowed to express solidarity or our views to the world anymore? The only Basque-language daily newspaper of the world has been closed... It´s a dark page, indeed, for our history and for the history of press freedom.

Luistxo Fernandez
2003-02-22 : 09:22

Pello Zubiria, one of the arrested, suffers a severe and painful disease: Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). There´s concern about his situation being incommunicado as he is. Concern not only among his relatives and friends, also in the Internet.

Pello is an active member of the worlwide net of AS patients, KickAS.org. He also opened the Spanish & Basque bilingual helping site Izorrategi.org to offer advice about the disease in these languages.

In behalf of Pello, I opened a thread about his situation in the Kickas forum, and we are already receiving the solidarity of Pello´s AS friends. Thank you.

Joseba Abaitua
2003-02-22 : 09:29

>I hope that these allegations against the paper are not true. I also hope that the Spanish Government is not using the "War on Terror" as an excuse to attack Basque organizations.

In my view two factors converge:

1. It is true that the editorial line of Egunkaria is largely aligned with the radical movement that supports ETA (Batasuna, Senideak, etc.) in Basque Country. But that is not "overtly" expressed in the pages of the paper and big care is taken not to ifringe or offend the Spanish legal system. If there were offenders, these may be reporters, collaborators or managers as individuals, but not the medium as such.

2. The true reason of this stupid episode is the declining popularity of the Aznar's goverment after the Prestige disaster and its unconditional support to US war-threat against Iraq.

Any action taken against ETA or its supporters gets inmediate popular aclaim in Spain at large as well as within non-nationalistic layers of Basque population (45%). We must not forgert, ETA is perceived as a stupid an savage organization by the majority of population in Spain (95%?), or even within the Basque Country (80%').

How many Spanish and Basque papers would ETA close if that capacity were in its hand? How many reporters have suffered terrorist action and how many are threatened by ETA and its supporters? What could even happen to any one that like me in this moment and in this manner is expressing his opinion against them? I'would rather better not think much about it.

Often ETA and Aznar's PP party seem to work in collaboration. The more the popular opinion gets polarized in their extremes, the better for them, and worse for those that try to qualify their arguments. This is what is called political profitability at any cost. Does this sound familiar to you and the popularity of your president George W. Bush?



Juan M Alberdi
2003-02-22 : 12:31

According to Mr Abaitua,

> 1. It is true that the editorial line of Egunkaria is largely aligned with the radical movement that supports ETA (Batasuna, Senideak, etc.) in Basque Country...

As far as I know any one capable of writing in Basque is invited to write in Egunkaria. That is the paper line. Another thing is the percentage of writers in Basque among the different political trends.

>But that is not "overtly" expressed in the pages of the paper and big care is taken not to ifringe or offend the Spanish legal system...

If it is not "overtly" it must be between lines, what leads us back to Franco's times, when nobody could express freely their views, a very enviable period of time, indeed.

>If there were offenders, these may be reporters, collaborators or managers as individuals, but not the medium as such...

This is a big "if", isn't it?

> 2. The true reason of this stupid episode is the declining popularity of the Aznar's goverment after the Prestige disaster and its unconditional support to US war-threat against Iraq.

OK, just an episode. To me, this is another step on the anihilation, first of the Basque left and then of any progress of the Basque culture in general, and of the Basque language in particular. It is being led by a party directly issued from Franco's rangs and helped by the Spanish socialists, none of them any (Spanish) nationalist, of course.

Joseba Abaitua
2003-02-22 : 23:22

> It is being led by a party directly issued from Franco's rangs and helped by the Spanish socialists, none of them any (Spanish) nationalist, of course.

Uhm... do you mean that they don't have democratic credit? That 70% of voters in Spain or 40% in Basque Country are worth nothing? Perhaps even myself, despite being Basque, Basquist and ocasional Egunkaria reader?

My letany, my big pity is that ETA gets profit with this, and Aznar too; while Basques and Basque supportes lose a very remarkable newspaper. I deeply wish that Egunkaria gets reopen tomorrow. I strongly hope that PP's goverment gets a sharp electoral punishment for this action (although I fear that if they get it it will be because of the Prestige disaster and US attack on Iraq). But my bigest wish is for ETA to vanish for good! That will be a great victory for freedom.

Juan M Alberdi
2003-02-23 : 00:49

> Uhm... do you mean that they don't have democratic credit? That 70% of voters in Spain or 40% in Basque Country are worth nothing? Perhaps even myself, despite being Basque, Basquist and ocasional Egunkaria reader?

What I have said is that this is an all out assault against the Basques and their culture by the Spanish nationalists and this is independent of the number of votes they have in this country. Or perhaps not? As for your person, unless you give facts, do you suffer from persecution mania or what?

> My letany, my big pity is that ETA gets profit with this, and Aznar too ...

We will have to wait next elections to know it. But I think that your litany of putting ETA and PP on the same level as both profiting from extreme situations is a pure fallacy. Facts prove that along these years of violence, the number of Batasuna voters has been continuously decreasing and, on the contrary, the moderated PNV/EAJ's has always been increasing, and it is the party that has always been leading Basque Governments since democracy was installed in the 70s.

>I strongly hope that PP's goverment gets a sharp electoral punishment for this action (although I fear that if they get it it will be because of the Prestige disaster and US attack on Iraq)...

So then, will they profit from Egunkaria's episode or not?

>But my bigest wish is for ETA to vanish for good! That will be a great victory for freedom.

That's what we thought when Franco died and formal democracy came to Spain. I'm not sure that all has been for the best for the Basques.

Joseba Abaitua
2003-02-23 : 02:13

>do you suffer from persecution mania or what?

I offer this last message in memory of Jorge Díez Elorza and Fernando Buesa


2003-02-23 : 04:00

Basque journal's staff arrested By Joshua Levitt in Madrid FT.com site; Feb 20, 2003

Spanish police on Thursday arrested 10 directors and editors of a Basque-language newspaper in a dawn raid and closed its offices for alleged ties to Eta, the armed Basque separatist group. The operation comes as the government tries to clamp down on groups that may support Eta, arresting a total of 33 people, including several minors, in three separate operations this week. The interior ministry said the Audiencia Nacional, the Madrid-base special crimes court, ordered the raid on the Euskaldunon Egunkaria daily and the company that owns it on grounds that it either pertains to Eta or collaborates with armed separatist group. José María Michavilla, justice minister, said on state-owned radio that the Basque company is an instrument of Eta, alerting its military leaders of imminent police operations against the group.

The newspaper's offices in four Basque cities were closed, while computers and files were confiscated. Members of the PNV, the moderate Basque nationalist party, called the raid an attack on Euskera, the Basque language, and the whole of Basque society. The Socialist party said the closure of the newspaper was "surprising", as it was thought to be "outside the terrorist sphere".

Thursday's operation was not the first aimed at a Basque newspaper for alleged support of Eta, though the move was surprising, as Euskaldunon Egunkaria's editorial line is considered to be fairly moderate. In 1998, a judge ordered that Egin, a radical newspaper widely thought to be a mouthpiece for Eta, be closed for its links to the armed separatist group. Last year, public prosecutors charged the directors of Euskaldunon Egunkaria and Gara, a more radical newspaper, for "induction of murder" after interviewing Eta members. The Audiencia Nacional later released the two men. Other Basque media groups have offered office space to allow Euskaldunon Egunkaria, which has denied the allegations, to publish on Thursday. The newspaper was founded in 1990 as the first Basque-language daily and receives financial support from the Basque government

Indymedia Germany
2003-02-23 : 04:08

Unglaublich große Demo für die Pressefreiheit im Baskenland: http://germany.indymedia.org/2003/02/42427.shtml

Juan M Alberdi
2003-02-23 : 10:15

> I offer this last message in memory of "Jorge Díez Elorza and Fernando Buesa...

You are not the only one with friends killed by violence, but it is true I can't offer any link to any Ministerio del Interior. I was asking for yourself. That was dishonest.

Basque Society (Euskal Elkartea) in London
2003-02-24 : 01:45

The Basque Society (Euskal Elkartea) in London would like to send its support to EGUNKARIA, it's employees and to the whole Basque society. We would like especially to send our support to those detained by the Spanish government and to their families.

We have appreciated for a long time your good work developing the Basque language and culture and keeping us informed about the day to day happenings both in Euskal Herria and all around the world.

All our best wishes. EVERYBODY IS EGUNKARIA !

Juan C. Mendizabal
2003-02-24 : 04:06

> The only Basque-language newspaper of the world, **Euskaldunon Egunkaria,** has been closed. 10 people have been arrested by the Guardia Civil under the

> accusation of supporting an armed group. Among them, the director of Egunkaria, and several intellectuals and journalists well known and respected in the circles of Basque cultura and language-support groups. Allegations that these people and Egunkaria are "part of ETA´s terrorist band" are pure fabrications.


> Sustatu.com is a Basque-language news weblog. However, we've started this English language thread for messages related to the closure of Euskaldunon Egunkaria. Also a special page about "Egunkaria":http://www.sustatu.com/english/egunkaria

> Euskaldunon Egunkaria´s website (www.egunkaria.com) has also been shutdown, but journalists have joined to creare a substitute which is in the streets today (called, provisionally, Egunero, *everyday* ) and is also online at:


> * "www.egunero.info":http://www.egunero.info


> Other related links:


> * "Basque Indymedia":http://basque.indymedia.org and it´s own "English-language thread":http://euskalherria.indymedia.org/eu/2003/02/4434.shtml


> * Gara newspaper: "special online section":http://www.gara.net/egunkaria/index.htm


> * Sustatu´s own effort to support "Egunkaria":http://www.sustatu.com/english/egunkaria


> * Basque and Italian hackers united at "this supporting site":http://www.inventati.org/egunkaria

We are desolated because the news Egunkaria provided were widely readed for Basques around the world. Basques got to feel a little more conection between us. But Spanish government couldn't bear it and closed with it also the only Basque newspaper in English we could learn, with news about Basque Country. I remember how it was great to send them the link of Egunkaria, how they were pleased with this first newspaper spreading the news for them.

Also, it wasn't even radical or biased, on the contrary, anyone could read it without feeling molested for the way they gave the news.

Then, why so much efforts to shut it up? Are there some intention to kill our lenguage?

2003-02-24 : 08:05

Indymedia´s global net is publishing the news at www.indymedia.org . Read full story here

2003-02-24 : 10:34

The news at the Idaho Statesman, with comments from Idaho Democrat state Rep. David Bieter here.

Also at Idaho Indymedia

2003-02-25 : 13:15

The first managing editor of ·Egunkaria, Pello Zubiria, detained last
Thursday in the police move against the paper may have attempted suicide
at the Gregorio Marañon Hospital in Madrid where he had been
hospitalized 24 hours before according to official sources because of
stomach problems.

Zubiria was taken to the medical centre last Saturday since he was
apparently having a nervous breakdown and was admitted to the centre at
the behest of the judge in charge of the case.

The suicide attempt took place on Sunday when Zubiria tried to smother
himself with a pillow case according to the same sources. The former
managing editor of "Egunkaria" suffers from a serious chronic illness
and needs special attention, with correct medication and a very strict
diet if his precarious state of health is not be altered.

The editorial staff at the magazine Argia publically announced that
somebody in a responsible position at the Gregorio Marañon Hospital had
commented to a Spanish government authority that "it's a good thing that
what happened took place at the hospital because otherwise ..."

The overzealous action taken against the paper "Egunkaria" is graver
still when it affects the weaker people detained such as Pello Zubiria.
Mr. Zubiria has been held incommicado and detained in great secrecy. No
one knew or could know of his whereabouts until yesterday when news of
his suicide attempt leaked out. The overzealousness of the Spanish
police and justice seems to have rubbed off even on the hospital staff
since they declined even to inform Mr. Zubiria's family of the state of
his health with the argument that they could not do so under the Spanish
judge's orders.

Pello Zubiria suffers (since several years) a severe denegerative disease,
Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). Relatives told Police about AS when they
arrested him, but it doesn´t seem anyone cared. Zubiria is an active
partner in the global net of AS patients, Kickas.org, where his case has
spurn solidarity.


He also has a personal website in Spanish and Basque to help other people
with AS: Izorrategi.org

2003-02-25 : 13:21

Pello is no terrorist. Pello is a good man. A tough man. What have they done to him?

Pello was the first director of Egunkaria. He left 11 years ago or so. Then he directed Argia, the Newsweek of the Basques. Pello is my former boss.

Pello is the Basque Ben Bradley. Pello is Ignacio Ramonet. Pello is Ambrose Pierce. Pello is Ryszard Kapucinski.

We MUST save Pello.

2003-02-25 : 13:53



Spain : Closure of Basque newspaper must be investigated promptly

AI Index: EUR 41/002/2003 (Public)

News Service No: 043

25 February 2003

Amnesty International today called on the Spanish authorities to act promptly to clarify and substantiate the grounds on which a Basque-language newspaper was shut down, and a number of persons arrested.

On 20 February a National Court judge ordered the precautionary closure of the Basque newspaper Euskaldunon Egunkaria - the only newspaper written entirely in the Basque language - and the arrest of 10 persons associated with the newspaper. These included the Jesuit priest, Padre Txema Auzmendi, S.J, and one of the directors, Peio Zubiria, who yesterday reportedly attempted suicide. All were arrested, held incommunicado under the anti-terrorist legislation and taken to the National Court in Madrid.

The judge justified the closure and arrests in a decision in which he stated that the company which published Egunkaria was created, financed and directed by the Basque armed group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA). The newspaper, which was founded in 1990, allegedly contributed to a Basque-language information structure which facilitated the dissemination of "terrorist" ideology. As yet, the concrete basis for the decision has not been made clear.

The Basque Government, which has reportedly subsidised Egunkaria for a number of years, requested urgent clarification of the basis for the closure and arrests. In a separate statement, the Company of Jesus expressed concern about the arrest of Padre Auzmendi, "publicly recognized for his clear opposition to violence" and defence of the "marginalized" and vulnerable.

The precautionary closure of Egunkaria follows the unrelated case of the closure of the Basque newspaper Egin by a National Court judge in 1998. Egin was suspected of printing coded messages to ETA and of being an instrument of "terrorism". The closure order was lifted a year later but a trial hearing has still not taken place.

Amnesty International, which only 10 days ago, again expressed its unreserved condemnation of the human rights abuses committed by ETA, recognizes the responsibility of the judiciary to take any appropriate measures essential to the protection of life and integrity.

"However, an action as serious as the closure of a newspaper, and the arrest of those involved in its production - has clearly injurious consequences for the fundamental right to freedom of expression", Amnesty International warned."It is, therefore, imperative that any judicial investigation is prompt and thorough".

Public Document: http://web.amnesty.org/ai.nsf/recent/EUR410022003!Open

For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566

Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW. web: http://www.amnesty.org

For latest human rights news view http://news.amnesty.org

eneko agirre
2003-02-26 : 19:43

> * Gara newspaper: "special online section":http://www.gara.net/egunkaria/index.htm


The correct link is http://www.gara.net/egunkaria/index.php

2003-02-27 : 15:33

Eurolang.net is the news agency for European minority languages.

Click here to get also Irish and Spanish versions:

  • Tha Dùnadh Egunkaria a' cur cathadh air daoine air feadh na Spàinne is na Roinne Eòrpa

  • El fin de Egunkaria provoca protestas en España y a nivel europeo

Closure of Egunkaria provokes protests throughout Spain and on European level

The closure of Euskaldunon Egunkaria, the only Basque language newspaper in the Basque Country, by order of a Spanish judge has provoked a wave of protests throughout Spain, but especially in the Basque and Catalan territories. Many political parties, institutions and associations have expressed their concern, and the case has given rise to protests especially among journalists’ associations and unions.

On Saturday, a massive demonstration took place in the streets of Donostia (San Sebastian) to protest against the shut down of the newspaper. The march was organised by Kontseilua, the Council of Social Associations in Support of the Basque language, and tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered carrying the slogan ‘Egunkaria aurrera, Euskarari bai’ (Support Egunkaria, yes to the Basque language). According to Xabier Mendiguren, spokesman of Kontseilua, the situation is critical after the closure of the newspaper. He urged all political parties to ‘leave behind their political quarrels and to step into action to defend and promote intensively both the language and the culture of the Basques.’ The demonstrators also demanded the release of the 10 arrested directors and managers of Egunkaria.

Three Basque government ministers took part in the demonstration. The Basque president, Juan José Ibarretxe, said that the judicial shut down of Euskaldunon Egunkaria was ‘an exceptional measure’, while his party, the governing Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), issued a statement in which it said that the decision proved that Spain is a ‘totalitarian State’.

Meanwhile, the workers and journalists of Euskaldunon Egunkaria have managed to publish a new newspaper, called Egunero. The first day, they sold 50.000 issues while the normal sales of the closed publication amount to 13.000 copies. On Saturday they sold 75.000 newspapers and on Sunday this increased to 100.000 copies. This also is proof of the social concern and solidarity that the Basques have shown with this case.

Also in Catalonia there have been many protests. All political parties, except the conservative Peoples Party (PP), issued statements against the closure of Euskaldunon Egunkaria. Two Catalan journalists’ independent associations, Gaziel and Grup Barnils, also condemned the decision of the judge and urged for an immediate reopening of Euskaldunon Egunkaria. Catalan Republican Left (ERC, independentist) member of Spanish Congress Joan Puigcercós said the closure of the newspaper is ‘a crime against the freedom of speech’. He also urged the judge to ‘act against persons but not media.’

The only parties that supported the judge’s decision were the Madrid based PP and the socialist PSOE. Spanish Interior minister Angel Acebes said that the operation was, in fact, an act in favour of the Basque language, because, according to him, ‘ETA would not use again this language to promote its goals’. Other Spanish politicians also expressed in similar terms, although some socialists also urged the judge to work quickly so Euskaldunon Egunkaria can reopen as soon as possible.

In Madrid, the Spanish federation of journalists’ unions issued a statement in which it expressed its ‘concern’ for the closed newspaper and its workers. Moreover, some Spanish media, such as the newspaper El Mundo and El País, made critical editorials and said that the freedom of expression had been ‘damaged’.

This is in line with reactions made on a European level: The European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages (EBLUL) considers the closure as a ‘a severe attack on freedom of expression as well as on the Basque Language’ and ‘as completely inappropriate in a democracy.’ ‘It is a linguistic right to have a newspaper in your own mother tongue and it is especially vital for minority communities’‚ says Bojan Brezigar, president of EBLUL .

The president of the minority dailies association MIDAS, Toni Ebner, comments that ‘no state has the right to gag the press’ and adds that to storm an editorial office by police force, to imprison editors and administrative personnel and to suppress the media organ of a minority purely on the basis of a suspicion, is a reminder of the darkest chapters of Spanish and European history.

MEP Michl Ebner (Peoples Party) handed in a written question concerning the closure of Euskaldunon Egunkaria. There, he calls on the European Commission to check if ‘the complete shutting down of a newspaper only on basis of suspicion of aiding in terrorist activities is permissible and proportional.(EL)

2003-02-27 : 15:40

The five detainees released yesterday -after paying massive bails!- have reported tortures. They were met by their relatives whom had travelled all the way from
the Basque Country to the Soto del Real prison (Madrid), in an emotive atmosphere where "sadness, excitement and rage turned all the sudden into
frustration" (Egunero paper). Xabier Oleaga, Xabier Alegria, Txema Auzmendi, Joan Mari Torrealdai and Iñaki Uria were sentenced to ‘unconditional
imprisonement’. Pello Zubiria remains in hospital.

Egunkaria’s director on his release reported in a press conference where the Basque TV Euskal Telebista (ETB) was also present: ‘they’ve treated us like rats,
the treatment was merciless, brutal’. He also said that they applied twice the ‘bag’ (suffocation with a bag) to him in the five days they were inside, while they
insulted him non-stop. They also made him stay crouching and naked, and that they made him do exercises endlessly.

  1. Otamendi was clearly affected and added that the other detainees had also battered in the police station, specially writer Joan Mari Torrealdai. ‘You could
    hear the screams of your workmates and even the noise of the beatings’. The interrogations happened at any time either in the evening or the day. He was told
    repeatedly "you know you’ll end up speaking, never mind when: today, tomorrow, you’ll decide when".

Egunkaria’s director reminded that they weren’t the first ones to be tortured in the Basque Country, but that ‘until it doesn’t happen to you, and like twice in
his case experiencing the bag’ you can’t imagine it. He asked the media to demand from the institutions the cease of torture as the media tend to ignore this
practice and many others don’t have the possibilities to speak out about it. Martxelo Otamendi highlighted the Guardia Civil’s impunity and thanked everyone
for their support.

At this time we have to remind that under the 18/98 Summary, many other organisms and projects have been closed down and their members imprisoned. In
all the cases people were imprisoned for long periods, never proving that they belonged to ETA and getting released afterwards (sometimes months or even
years) because of lack of evidence. The only evidence which is used is that you belong to this group, or this paper, or this organization and that this is in
ETA’s orbit, therefore you belong to ETA and we treat you like that.

Bojan Brezigar, President of EBLUL
2003-02-28 : 17:40

The Basque Language is a wealth, not only for the
Basque Country and the whole Iberian Peninsula,
but also for Europe and the rest of the world. The
shut down of the Euskaldunon Egunkaria
Newspaper, the world's only newspaper entirely written
in Basque, is unacceptable as far as the promotion
and normalization of minority and regional languages
is concerned.

Bojan Brezigar, President of EBLUL

markos zapiain
2003-03-01 : 18:22

"How can the life of such a man

be in the palm of some fool's hand?

to see him obviousluy framed

culdn't help but make me feel ashamed

to live in a land

where justice is a game"


2003-03-04 : 17:16

Daily newspaper is closed down by armed police after a series of dawn raids which see them carting away computers and documents. A former editor of the newspaper, after five days in police detention, tries to hang himself in a hospital room. The present editor is released, but claims that the police tortured him by placing plastic bags over his head. Local politicians angrily denounce police conduct; the government, with equal vehemence, denies the allegations. It in turn accuses the newspaper and its editors of following the orders of a terrorist group that has killed and crippled other journalists.

It sounds like a story from a conflict-ridden developing-world country. But no, this is Spain; the newspaper is the Basque-language Egunkaria...

Article by Giles Tremlett, for The Guardian,
Monday March 3, 2003

2003-03-04 : 17:21

This one from Feb. 28, 2003

Basque Journalist complains of ill-treatment in custody - Reporters Without Borders calls for an inquiry

Journalist Martxelo Otamendi Egiguren, managing editor of the Basque-language newspaper Euskaldunon Egunkaria held for five days in a police operation against the paper's management, has said he was both psychologically and physically ill-treated in custody.
He was among ten members of the newspaper's staff arrested on suspicion of collaboration with the Basque separatist movement ETA.

"We urge you to open an inquiry into these allegations of ill-treatment in custody of the managing editor of Egunkaria and to keep us informed about the condition of former managing editor Pedro Zubiria, who tried to commit suicide", said Robert Ménard, General Secretary of Reporters Without Borders in a letter to Spanish interior minister Angel Acebes.

Reporters Without Borders also reminded him of its opposition to the closure of the Basque-lanaguage newspaper. "We oppose the closure, even temporarily, of the daily Euskaldunon Egunkaria. This move punishes a media, which has done nothing wrong as such and deprives readers of their right to news. Without taking sides on the charges levelled against the paper's management, we call for the reopening of Egunkaria throughout the legal procedures", added Mr Ménard.
Police arrested ten journalists and members of the newspaper's board on 20 February 2003 on suspicion of "membership of or collaboration with the terrorist organisation ETA". The judge also ordered the closure of the newspaper.

Four people were freed on bail on 25 February, including the managing editor Martxelo Otamendi Egiguren, while six other management figures have been placed in preventative detention. Pedro Zubiria, former managing editor, is currently in hospital after attempting suicide in custody on 23 February.


2003-03-06 : 14:44

Message sent to several mailing lists and forums.

Today Basque is "an even more" endangered language.

Dear colleagues

We know that this kind of message is not common in this mailing list, but we
would like to inform you about a direct attack to the Basque culture, which
has a direct influence in our research efforts.

The only Basque language newspaper in the world "Egunkaria" was temporarily
closed on February the 20th and 10 top representatives of Basque culture
arrested by a Spanish judge, under allegations of collaboration with
terrorists. We want to stress that there has not been any trial yet; they
have been held in protective custody. Before even finding the newspaper
employees guilty, the judge decided to close down the newspaper. The closing
of the newspaper is a preventive temporary measure, but Spanish law allows
the closing to go on for five years. Even after a few weeks the newspaper
becomes financially unfeasible.

It is worth mentioning that Egunkaria has the support of different political
sensibilities in the Basque Society, and it is also well known in the
International Community. The vast majority of Basque society does not agree
with the closing of Egunkaria (list of supporters here ). The International
Federation of Journalists
Reporters Without Borders
and the president of the European Bureau of Lesser Used Languages, among
others, have also criticized the measure.

Being Basque an endangered language (around 800.000 speakers) under a
normalization process, currently available corpora are small in size, and
one of the most promising sources for our research efforts was Egunkaria.
There is also an English version of it that would allow us to research on
parallel corpora. One of the biggest linguistic corpora available for Basque
is the compilation of the daily issues since 2000. Language technology was
being used to search in their online news database (unfortunately, their
internet edition was also closed). A document classification research
project was underway, as well as a research project on a pragma-rhetorical
analysis of the contents of EGUNKARIA.

We do not want to initiate a debate. If you want more information or to
express your sympathy, please refer to http://www.sustatu.com/english/egunkaria

Today Basque is "an even more" endangered language.

Research groups and companies working on Human Language Technology from the
Basque Country supporting this message:

AHOLAB group

DELi group

ILCLI group on semantics, pragmatics and rhetoric

IXA NLP group

Code & Syntax

Diana Teknologia



Hizkia Informatika


2003-03-11 : 14:40

Report in TIME, Blaming the messenger

And report and interview with Egunkaria's editor Martxelo Otamendi at The Idaho Statesman: Basque journalist tells tale of torture

2003-03-12 : 16:32

Egunero, the substitute daily urgency paper, published by workers of Egunkaria since it was shut down, has now an English edition online:


Egunkaria the Basque-daily paper had also an online English edition. Since 2002 and until Feb. 20, 2003, it was, probably, the best English-language resource of news about the Basque Country. That was also shut down, altogether with the site egunkaria.com, the offices of the paper, its archives, the working place of 150 people...

2003-03-13 : 13:09

Gara, a Basque newspaper published in Spanish, has also a special online section now with information about Egunkaria. Check it here.

2003-03-13 : 13:15

There it is, Aurrera.net, the website in support of Egunkaria and in defense of Basque language and culture. An initiative of Basque Internet users.

YOU can help also:

  1. Spread the word about Aurrera.net.

  2. You may take part in the News & Discussion section (moderated discussion)

  3. You may post new related material through this page

  4. Place banners and links pointing towards it (info here ).

It´s a 4-language site (fr, es, en, eu.), with sections for materials in other languages here

Aurrera.net is an initiative of Kontseilua, The Council of Basque Social Organizations. This site is edited by journalists of Egunkaria / Egunero and Kontseilua, and counts with the support of many individuals and groups within the Basque
internet community.

2003-03-19 : 11:39

The Chicago Tribune: Sun Mar 16, 2003

Definition of `torture' blurs

Coercion in Spain hints at how many justify the practice

By Tom Hundley - Tribune foreign correspondent

March 16, 2003

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain - The two police cars had been conspicuous in
tailing him earlier in the day, so Martxelo Otamendi was not
surprised by
his arrest, only the manner of it.

"The Civil Guard came to my house at 1:30 in the morning. There were
about 12 cars. They sealed off all the streets in my neighborhood. It
really a military operation, like they were arresting [Osama] bin
Laden," said Otamendi, editor of Egunkaria, Spain's only Basque-

The police spent five hours in the house, Otamendi said, rummaging
through his belongings, carting away boxes of books, files, family
and personal effects that they hoped would link him to ETA, the
Basque separatist organization.

After they finished, a handcuffed and blindfolded Otamendi was led
from the house and driven six hours to Madrid's Soto del Real prison.

When he walked out of the prison five days later, Otamendi appeared
dazed. He tried to give a television interview but broke down in the
middle of it.

He later told interviewers he had been stripped, deprived of sleep,
forced to stand for hours, blindfolded and subjected to
other "moderate"
physical and psychological abuse.

Human-rights organizations say that these allegations, if true,
to torture.

"We believe that any ill-treatment inflicted deliberately should
as torture," said Gillian Fleming, an investigator with Amnesty

With countries as diverse as the United States, Russia, Israel and
Spain stepping up their wars on terrorism, human-rights groups and
experts say the legal and moral boundaries for the use of torture are
becoming dangerously blurred.

For years, Israel's secret police defended what they called "moderate
physical pressure"--binding suspects in painful positions, covering
their heads with hoods and violently shaking them--as a legitimate
means of
coercing information from Palestinian prisoners.

Rights groups object to these practices. "Amnesty International is
totally opposed to the idea that there is any acceptable form of
Fleming said, and in a landmark decision two years ago, the Israeli
Supreme Court agreed.

But senior U.S. officials acknowledge they are using sleep and light
deprivation and the temporary withholding of food, water and medical
attention to extract information from Al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners
including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the senior operative arrested in
this month.

Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
insist that these techniques are legal and appropriate, especially
it comes to eliciting information from someone like Mohammed, a
terrorist and close confidant of bin Laden's who is believed to have
been a key planner of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Otamendi, on the other hand, is a newspaper editor and television
personality. His links to terrorist activity, if they exist at all,
are far
from proven. The newspaper he edits is generally regarded as a voice
moderation in a troubled region, although some in the Spanish
government suspect it of having ties to ETA.

In Spain, allegations of torture and abuse tend to fall on deaf ears
when they come from people that the government has accused of having
links to ETA, a group whose appetite for violence has alienated
all of the Spanish public, including most Basques.

"When they get out of jail, ETA people always claim torture. It's
standard operating procedure," one Western diplomat said. An ETA
manual seized by the government does instruct its members to make

Otamendi was arrested Feb. 20 along with nine other people associated
with the Egunkaria management, including a Jesuit priest who is a
of newspaper's board of directors. Police also ordered the newspaper
cease publication.

Two days later, about 60,000 people marched in San Sebastian to
the newspaper's closing. But Spain's leading newspapers have taken
little notice of the closing or the allegations of torture made by
and three others who have since been released.

"Journalists here care about saving the whales, about torture in
25 years ago and about mistreatment of Taliban prisoners in
but they are not going to stick their necks out for the Basques,"
Otamendi said.

He can smile now when he recalls how his jailers forced him to do
calisthenics to the point of exhaustion.

"Knee-bends, push-ups. Then they would have me kneel or stand facing
the wall for three or four hours at a time. They would let me sit for
minutes, but no lying down," he said. "For the first three days, I
never allowed to lie down."

As required by Spanish law, Otamendi was allowed to visit a
court-appointed doctor each day. Because he also is well-known as a
gay activist,
Otamendi said he was constantly insulted about his orientation and
forced to simulate sex acts.

"They kicked me a few times in the testicles. Not very hard, just a
reminder of what could come later," he said.

On two occasions, he said, the jailers put a bag over his head so
he couldn't breathe. Another time they put a gun to his temple and
cocked the hammer.

Spain's anti-terrorism laws allow authorities to hold suspects for
days without access to a lawyer and without specifying the charges.
What Otamendi's interrogators seemed to want was information about
financing and ownership of Egunkaria and his journalistic contacts

"They told me that the interrogations were like a train: I had a
to get off at any stop and suffer less. It was my choice. They told
that in the end everyone talks, so why not make it easy on myself,"

On Monday, the Spanish government filed a criminal complaint against
Otamendi and the other detainees who alleged torture, accusing them
collaborating with ETA and undermining Spain's democratic
institutions by
making false allegations against the government.

2003-03-19 : 11:43

The persecution of a newspaper

Monday 17th March 2003 - Observations on Spain by Bulent Yusuf

Pello Zubiria lies in the intensive care unit of a hospital in
Madrid, suffering from pneumonia and a degenerative disease called
ankylosing spondylitis, which causes the bones in his spine to fuse

Zubiria is here because, on 20 February, the Spanish Guardia Civil
raided the offices of Euskaldunon Egunkaria, Spain's leading Basque-
language newspaper, and arrested ten members of staff. As a former
managing editor, Zubiria was among those accused of helping the
violent separatist group ETA in its campaign for an independent
Basque country.

Zubiria's delicate condition was ignored when he was imprisoned, and
the pain became so great that he had a nervous breakdown and
attempted to kill himself. To date, only four of the journalists
arrested have been released on bail, and each has complained of
torture by the Spanish authorities.

Martxelo Otamendi, the current editor of Egunkaria, told a press
conference upon his release: "The treatment was merciless, brutal."
During the five days that he was held at a police station, he was
twice suffocated with a bag while being verbally abused.

This is the latest example of Spain's unique interpretation of the
war on terror, where Basque newspapers, cultural magazines, radio
stations, language schools for adults and even children's language
schools are accused of harbouring terrorist activity. There is no
disputing the criminality of ETA, which has caused the deaths of more
than 800 people in a bombing and shooting campaign since 1968; but
the Basque community as a whole is threatened by the government's
heavy-handed clampdown.

Although the Spanish media have already decided Egunkaria is guilty,
the paper has vigorously denied any connection to ETA. "There is
absolutely no truth in these allegations," said a spokesman. "The
paper is subsidised by the Basque government and we are audited by it
every year. These are public accounts."

The lack of hard evidence for the arrests led the secretary-general
of Reporters sans Frontieres, Robert Menard, to write a letter to the
Spanish justice minister, Jose MarIa Michavila. Other non-
governmental organisations such as the International Federation of
Journalists and Amnesty International have publicly pledged their
support to the paper.

Following the closure of Egunkaria, 100,000 protesters crowded into
the streets of the Basque city of Donostia. The demonstration was
attended by artists, labour groups and the clergy. Also present were
members of each Basque political party and the Basque government -
which is semi-autonomous from the Spanish government, and controls
areas such as taxation and education.

Meanwhile, Pello Zubiria remains in hospital, under arrest. The
Spanish courts have now sentenced him and five Egunkaria journalists
to "unconditional imprisonment", but he cannot be moved until his
doctors say otherwise.

This article first appeared in the New Statesman. For the latest in
current and cultural affairs subscribe to the New Statesman print

2003-03-19 : 11:47

Index on Censorship: Egunkaria closure Anger deepens after Basque paper ban

Index on Censorship: Egunkaria closure Anger deepens after Basque paper ban

The political upheaval over the banning of the Basque language daily Egunkaria continues to worsen with allegations that the paper's arrested staff were tortured in custody - a charge furiously denied by the Spanish state - and a aggressive bid to hold Spanish King Juan Carlos ultimately responsible for the abuses allegedly committed in his name.

Read the follow up at Indexonline

2003-03-19 : 11:48

NABO, the North American Basque Organization, opened a page about the Egunkaria case in its website.


2004-03-12 : 21:23

> "Gara,":http://www.gara.net a Basque newspaper published in Spanish, has also a special online section now with information about Egunkaria. Check it "here.":http://www.gara.net/egunkaria/english/


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