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crackdown on eta circles

Hardest of the hardcore? Police believe arrested lawyer wanted new ETA attacks

Arantza Zulueta tried to prevent terrorist inmates from issuing their last statement

Civil guards lead away Arantza Zulueta on Wednesday.
Civil guards lead away Arantza Zulueta on Wednesday.LUIS TEJIDO (EFE)

ETA lawyer Arantza Zulueta, who was arrested on Wednesday along with seven others linked to the terrorist organization’s prisoners’ liaison unit, is considered by law enforcement authorities as one of the most radical and inflexible members of the Basque group’s current organizational structure.

When ETA inmates were holding heated discussions among themselves that led to last month’s statement, in which they renounced violence and recognized the “multilateral” damage they have caused, Zulueta tried to drum up support among the most hardline prisoners, Civil Guard sources said. It was Zulueta, according to intelligence sources, who tried to stop the prisoners’ collective EPPK from releasing its statement on December 28, in which inmates also recognized the jurisdiction of the Spanish penitentiary system.

Zulueta represents the “hardest of the hardline” sector of the terrorist group, according to the sources. “Some leaders of the Basque abertzale radical left have accused her of trying to derail their strategy to join the political process and push for a return to the period where terrorist attacks were common,” said one source.

On Wednesday, the Civil Guard raided her office in Bilbao where she and two other lawyers, Jon Enparantza and José Luis Campos Barandiarán, were meeting. The three, who were all arrested, form part of the so-called KT (Koordinazio Taldea) coordinating group, which is considered the terrorist organization’s means to control the 421 prisoners serving time in Spanish and French jails. Zulueta and Enparantza were out on bail following their arrests in April 2010 in the first operation against the KT. During that raid, police found hit lists and documents pointing out the locations of secret weapons caches in France, eventually found in 2011.

I am no longer willing to tolerate Arantza Zulueta — not another minute"

During a crackdown last September on Herrira — the platform that supports jailed ETA terrorists — authorities said they found enough evidence to show that Zulueta and her partners were trying to organize a structure outside the prisons to control inmates. Among the evidence were “various documents” and “cryptic computer messages” that demonstrated an “exchange of communications” between the ETA leadership and KT aimed at controlling prisoners.

The KT, according to investigators, depends directly on ETA’s political arm and looks to try to prevent inmates from making individual decisions about their futures. Interior Ministry officials believe that KT is an influential group that has even written statements on behalf of the EPPK prisoners’ collective. On many occasions, the inmates themselves are unaware what these statements contain before they are released.

In conversations between ETA and its inmates that have been recorded by authorities, many prisoners expressed their frustration at the continued meddling of “political commissioner” Zulueta and have acknowledged her powerful influence over some of their fellow inmates. “I am no longer willing to tolerate Arantza Zulueta and the others — not even for another minute. This I am clear about, very clear about,” said one inmate in a conversation with EL PAÍS.

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