French security forces have arrested Juan Mari Múgica Dorronsoro, an alleged member of ETA's logistics apparatus who in 2000 was charged with supposedly transporting explosives and missiles.
French police located Múgica Dorronsoro close to the town of Oloron-Sainte-Marie, in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department in the south of the country, several days ago and consulted with Spanish authorities to see if they had a warrant out for him. After hearing back in the affirmative, they decided to move ahead with the arrest.
Múgica Dorronsoro had fled during a January 2010 Civil Guard operation in Lizartza, in Gipuzkoa province, that dismantled the cell that had planned a missile attack on the plane of Prime Minister José María Aznar in 2001.
Múgica Dorronsoro's arrest took place in the street as he was getting into a vehicle. Antiterrorist squad sources consulted by the Efe news agency said he was a member of an ETA reserve cell who was awaiting instructions from the group's leadership.
Last week was a record; there were six ETA arrests"
Before the arrest, Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz had announced in an interview with ABC Punto Radio that a "good piece of news" that might be related to ETA would emerge from his department on Wednesday.
His comments were greeted with unease among Spanish antiterrorist experts, who received a complaint from their French colleagues over the matter. "It is unacceptable to announce an operation in advance," said one police chief.
Fernández also pointed out that 17 arrests of alleged ETA personnel had taken place so far this year. "Last week was a record; there were six ETA arrests," he said.
Basque abertzale nationalist left spokeswoman Maribi Ugarteburu criticized the arrest of Múgica Dorronsoro and reproached the government for acting in "close collaboration with France "as if the new open political cycle in the Basque Country did not exist."
She reminded that ETA announced a definitive end to its armed conflict on October 20 of last year and made public its "complete openness" to dialogue with the Spanish and French governments to "tackle the agenda relating to the consequences of the conflict: dismantling military structures, disarming, the situation of prisoners and exiles and demilitarization."