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Egunkaria ("The daily") was for thirteen years the only fully Basque language newspaper in circulation, until it was closed down on February 20, 2003 by the Spanish authorities, due to allegations of an illegal association with ETA, the armed Basque separatist group.

Egunkaria was established in 1990 as the only Basque-language daily newspaper in the Basque Country (there had already been bilingual newspaper and monolingual weeklies). The promoters expected at the moment of first coming out in 1990 was to reach a circulation of 8,000 to 15,000 copies and 40,000 potential readers[1], a goal later achieved when being released[2], growing a widely respected publication as well as a meeting point for the Basque speaking community;[3] the newspaper was also known for its nationalistic leanings. It was sold in both the French and Spanish parts of the Basque Country[4] and its revenue from sales and advertising was complemented by subventions from the Basque regional government. On 20 February, 2003, the Spanish Civil Guard on orders from the Audiencia Nacional raided the newspaper's offices, seized documents and computers, and froze the newspaper's assets. In addition, ten individuals who were or had been members of staff were arrested in dawn raids and held.

In December 2004, Iñaki Uria, Joan Mari Torrealdai, Txema Auzmendi, Xabier Alegria, Pello Zubira, Xabier Oleaga, and Martxelo Otamendi were arrested for forming an "illegal association" at the time of Egunkaria's establishment, and for "membership of, or collaboration with, ETA". All were later cleared of all charges, and released. The newspaper was also effectively forced into liquidation as its assets were sold off by court-appointed administrators, meaning that regardless of the outcome of the case, Egunkaria had ceased to exist. More than 5 years have elapsed since, but the lawsuit remains still open.[5] Moreover, on account of the irregularities and a breach of guarantees for the defendants, all decisions made since April 2007 related to the economic proceedings have been overturned.[6]

The closure of Egunkaria resulted in grass-roots indignation,[7] with widespread criticism coming from different circles (Basque regional government, reputed writers, etc.) towards the Spanish authorities.[8][9][10] The writer Salman Rushdie denounced the closure as "appalling",[11] and the English newspaper The Independent made a small but symbolic financial donation towards the opening of the new Basque language publication, Berria.

A similar accusation had closed the bilingual (Spanish-Basque) nationalist leftist newspaper Egin, whose niche was occupied by Gara.

References

  1. ^ "Media and normalization of the Basque language". UPV/EHU. http://www.ehu.es/diaz-noci/Arts/A24b.PDF. Retrieved 2009-04-16.  
  2. ^ "Fourth estate - or fifth column?". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2003/mar/03/mondaymediasection.spain. Retrieved 2009-04-16.  
  3. ^ "Fourth estate - or fifth column?". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2003/mar/03/mondaymediasection.spain. Retrieved 2009-04-16.  
  4. ^ "History of the first newspaper in “euskera”: Euskaldunon Egunkaria". MIDAS. http://www.midas-press.org/NR/rdonlyres/967FBEF8-C573-40F5-BE1E-D3D986DA3658/0. Retrieved 2009-04-16.  
  5. ^ "Cinco años sin noticias". Noticias de Gipuzkoa. http://www.noticiasdegipuzkoa.com/ediciones/2008/02/13/politica/euskadi/d13eus18.924962.php. Retrieved 2009-04-16.   Site in Spanish
  6. ^ "La Audiencia Nacional ordena repetir casi desde el principio el sumario económico contra 'Egunkaria'". EITB. http://www.eitb.com/noticias/politica/detalle/128778/la-audiencia-nacional-ordena-repetir-casi-principio-sumario-economico-egunkaria/. Retrieved 2009-04-16.   Site in Spanish
  7. ^ "Blaming the messenger". Time Magazine. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,430697,00.html. Retrieved 2009-04-16.  
  8. ^ "Three Basque newspaper journalists still detained under anti-terrorism legislation". WiPC/IFEX. http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/53123/. Retrieved 2009-04-16.  
  9. ^ "Sobre la clausura de Euskaldunon Egunkaria". El País. http://www.elpais.com/articulo/espana/clausura/Euskaldunon/Egunkaria/elpepiesp/20030224elpepinac_21/Tes. Retrieved 2009-04-16.  
  10. ^ "Police tortured me, Basque editor claims". The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/police-tortured-me-basque-editor-claims-598925.html. Retrieved 2009-04-16.  
  11. ^ "Exdirector de Egunkaria denuncia la situación de encarcelamiento que aún vive el consejero delegado del periódico clausurado por justicia española". Noticiasdot.com. http://www.noticiasdot.com/publicaciones/2004/0504/1905/noticias190504/noticias190504-8.htm. Retrieved 2009-04-16.   Article in Spanish

External links

  • Juicio a Egunkaria - Spanish language blog on the trial to the Basque newspaper by L. Fernández, one of its journalists.
  • Egunkaria International - English, French and Spanish language webpage about the case.
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