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Spain police arrest Basque political leaders

[JURIST] Spanish police arrested over 20 senior members of the Batasuna party [BBC profile] Thursday on orders from anti-terror judge Baltasar Garzon. The reasons for their arrests have not been released, but many believe the arrests were politically motivated. The Batasuna party is alleged to be a front for the illegal Basque separatist militant group ETA [BBC backgrounder], which has been blamed for more than 800 deaths in bombings and attacks since the 1960s. Radical Basque nationalists Friday called for protests [Reuters report] of the arrests.

In March, Spanish prosecutors dropped charges of "glorifying terrorism" [JURIST report] against Batasuna leader Arnaldo Otegi [advocacy website] for his praise of an ETA member who killed herself with explosives. The Spanish Supreme Court in 2005 affirmed a slander conviction [BBC report] of Otegi relating to a 2003 press conference when Otegi said the King of Spain was responsible for torture as the head of the Spanish army. AP has more. El Pais has local coverage, in Spanish.

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