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Dismay as Basque activist handed to Spain

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09:49 CET+01:00
A French Basque separatist was handed over to Spain Thursday after detaining her on a European arrest warrant from Madrid over her alleged participation in a terrorist organisation, police said.

Aurore Martin, 33, had been detained during a roadside check in the municipality of Mauléon, not far from Pau in southwestern France, and was handed off to Spanish authorities several hours later, according to police and the Bayonne prosecutor.

A Madrid judge issued the warrant against Martin in mid-October for "participating in a terrorist organisation", after Martin allegedly took part in public meetings in Spain as a member of Batasuna, a political group banned by Madrid since 2003 for its links to the armed Basque separatists ETA.

In France, where Batasuna is authorised, local leftwing and rightwing politicians said they were baffled by Martin's arrest, saying it was not conducive to promoting peace and that the move was disproportionate to the allegations against her.

On Sunday, the Spanish interior ministry announced that French police had arrested a top ETA leader, prompting French Interior Minister Manuel Valls to hail the "fruitful Franco-Spanish cooperation" in fighting terrorism.

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