Clinton seeks to stem financing for Basque separatists: US

22nd March 2011, Comments 0 comments

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has taken steps to stem the flow of funds to leading members of the Basque separatist group ETA, the State Department said.

Clinton has barred US citizens from "engaging in any transactions with" ETA members Miguel de Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina and Jose Ignacio Reta de Frutos, and has blocked any interest they may have in US property, it said.

The action, which was taken under an executive order signed by previous president George W. Bush, "will help stem the flow of financial and other assistance to these ETA members," the State Department said in a statement.

Aspiazu Rubina, the alleged ETA military leader who is also known as Txeroki, is currently in French custody facing terrorism charges.

The State Department recalled that a Spanish court has charged him with planning to stage attacks in Valencia to disrupt the 2007 America's Cup yacht race and for the 2006 attack on the Barajas International Airport in Madrid.

"Reta de Frutos, a long time ETA member and explosives expert, failed to appear to begin serving an eight year sentence in Madrid. He is currently a fugitive from justice," it said.

"Their engagement in ETA's terrorist activities, including murder, bombing, raising funds and providing logistical support for a terrorist organization, constitute a threat to US interests," it added.

ETA was designated by the US State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 1997.

Daniel Benjamin, the State Department's counter-terrorism coordinator, said the action against "Txeroki and Reta de Frutos underscore the department's concern regarding ETA's unrelenting role in promoting instability in Spain.

"We will continue to work closely with our Spanish allies in an effort to further degrade this group's capabilities," he said, according to the department's statement.

© 2011 AFP

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