Basques from Spain, France launch new ‘independence’ party

Updated 24 February 2013

Basques from Spain, France launch new ‘independence’ party

PAMPLONA, Spain: Basques from Spain and France yesterday formally launched a new pro-independence party, Sortu, born from the ashes of Batasuna which was outlawed for links to armed separatists, ETA.
About 300 delegates from the Basque regions of Spain and France elected leaders for the left-wing party at a congress in the northern Spanish city of Pamplona.
They chose former Batasuna member Hasier Arraiz Barbadillo, 39, as party leader and as secretary general Arnaldo Otegi, who is in jail for trying to resurrect Batasuna after it was banned in 2003.
Barbadillo told the gathering: “Full freedom is our aim” for the Basque Country, called Euskal Herria in the Basque language, which spans parts of northern Spain and southern France.
“In Euskal Herria and wherever it is present, Sortu will be the mouthpiece for your struggle,” he told delegates.
The left-wing pro-independence movement has gained political weight in Spain over recent years as ETA has declined with many of its leaders getting arrested.
In his absence, Otegi addressed the congress in a letter in which he called on members to “fight in a new political phase” for the independence movement.
ETA is blamed for 829 killings in a four-decade campaign of bombings and shootings for an independent Basque homeland. It is classed as a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States.
It announced a “definitive end” to its armed activity in October 2011 but has not formally disarmed or disbanded as the Spanish and French governments demand.
Otegi called the Basque independence movement “a political conflict that is still unresolved because the Spanish and French states continue to deny the nationhood of Euskal Herria and its right to self-determination.”
Spanish authorities banned Sortu in 2011 because of its links to Batasuna, which was considered the political arm of ETA. The Constitutional Court legalised Sortu in 2012.

Ex-UK spy chief: COVID-19 could be from Wuhan lab

Updated 04 June 2020

Ex-UK spy chief: COVID-19 could be from Wuhan lab

  • Sir Richard Dearlove cites controversial study saying virus possibly man-made

LONDON: The coronavirus pandemic may have started by accident in a lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan, according to a former British spy.

Sir Richard Dearlove, who headed the UK’s intelligence agency MI6 until 2004, told the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper that the origins of the virus may not reside in a wet market in Wuhan, where it had previously been suggested that it passed to humans from bats.

Instead, he claims that it may have escaped from a lab, citing a controversial study by British and Norwegian researchers, including Prof. Angus Dalgleish of St. George’s at the University of London and John Fredrik Moxnes, a chief scientific adviser to the Norwegian military.


READ MORE: Did this Chinese government lab in Wuhan leak the coronavirus?


The Chinese city is home to two labs that have carried out tests on bats, as well as coronaviruses, in the past: The Wuhan Center for Disease Control and the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The presence of both these facilities has fueled speculation that COVID-19 is the result of human error, and that the virus escaped the confines of testing to reach the local population by accident.

It is a theory that has been promoted most notably by US President Donald Trump, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has previously talked of “enormous evidence” that the virus is a man-made pathogen.

It has drawn criticism, though, from many scientists worldwide, and the study in question has been rejected by a number of scientific journals.

Evidence published in British medical journal The Lancet claimed to be able to trace 27 of the first 41 identified COVID-19 cases back to the same Wuhan wet market, reinforcing the original hypothesis.

The US National Intelligence Director’s office, meanwhile, said it took the view of “the wider scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified,” though it added that it would continue to assess all evidence to the contrary.

The study, though, claims to have identified evidence that the virus’s genetic sequence may have been edited, calling it a “remarkably well-adapted virus for human co-existence.” 

Sir Richard said scientists at one of the facilities may have been conducting “gene-splicing experiments” in an effort to identify potentially dangerous pathogens like the SARS epidemic in 2003.

“It’s a risky business if you make a mistake,” Sir Richard told the Telegraph. “Look at the stories ... of the attempts by the (Chinese) leadership to lock down any debate about the origins of the pandemic and the way that people have been arrested or silenced.

“I think it will make every country in the world rethink how it treats its relationship with China and how the international community behaves towards the Chinese leadership.”

The UK government has said it has seen “no evidence” to suggest that the virus originated in a lab.