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   Vol. 67/No. 35           October 13, 2003  
Ottawa threatens deportation of Basques
MONTREAL—On September 18 Canada’s minister of justice, Martin Cauchon, announced that Gorka Perea Salazar and Eduardo Plagaro Perez de Arrilucea would be extradited to Spanish authorities.

Perea, 28, and Plagaro, 31, have been in an immigration prison here since June 6, 2001. They came to Canada in 1997 as political refugees from the Basque country, in northeastern Spain. There the two supporters of Basque independence had been sentenced to six and seven years in prison, respectively, on charges of criminal arson. The only evidence presented against them was confessions they said were made under torture. After they applied for refugee status from the Canadian Immigration Commission, the two men were jailed after Madrid requested their extradition.

In a letter to lawyers for Perea and Plagaro, the justice minister claimed, “It has not been established that the extradition of your clients will expose them to a serious risk of torture, to an unacceptable situation or a situation that shocks the conscience.”

At a September 19 press conference called by the Basque Prisoners’ Support Committee, spokesperson Veronique Gauthier said that “we are going to fight this decision.” Lawyers for the two Basque independence activists said they would appeal the justice minister’s decision.

Daniel Turp, a Parti Quebecois member of the National Assembly, Quebec’s parliament, spoke at the press conference. In response to the remark in Cauchon’s letter that “it wasn’t in Canada’s interests to become a refuge for those who are fleeing justice,” Turp said, “it’s not justice they are fleeing, it’s torture.”

The Basque Prisoners’ Support Committee recently sponsored a successful fund raising concert that was supported by several well-known artists and musicians.

Those who want more information on the fight to free Perea and Plagaro and oppose their extradition to Spain can contact the Support Committee at  
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