Scores of ETA prisoners join hunger strike

A mass hunger strike by jailed members of armed Basque separatist group ETA in Spain and France escalated with more than 100 prisoners taking part on Monday, Spanish authorities said.

The hunger strike was started by some 35 prisoners last week in support of Iosu Uribetxebarria, an ETA convict jailed for kidnapping a prison official in the 1990s, who is demanding release on parole because he is ill with cancer.

“Yesterday more prisoners joined in and the day ended with 108, and after dinner 51 declarations were handed in by those who will supposedly join the hunger strike today,” state prisons chief Angel Yuste said on Spanish radio.

On Sunday one of the most influential political figures of the Basque independence movement, Arnaldo Otegi, joined in the hunger strike at the prison where he is held in Spain, according to a message on his Twitter account.

The association Etxerat, which represents the families of imprisoned members of ETA, said prisoners in dozens of jails in France and Spain were staging hunger strikes or other kinds of protest.

“All these actions are aimed at pressuring the prisons administration and naturally they will have no effect,” Yuste said.

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