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Latest twist Basque activist asylum appeal dismissed

NGOs in Switzerland, here in front of a prison in Zurich, had lobbied for Nekane Txapartegi's release

(Keystone)

A Swiss federal court has dismissed an asylum appeal by Nekane Txapartegi, convicted in Spain of supporting the Basque separatist group ETA. It said she was now free to stay in Switzerland after Madrid dropped her sentence.

On Friday, the Swiss Federal Administrative Courtexternal link in St Gallen said the asylum issue was no longer relevant because Spain's High Court had ruled that Txapartegi’s sentence had reached its statute of limitations.

"As with every European citizen, Ms. Txapartegi may stay in Switzerland within the rules of free movement," a spokesman for the State Secretariat for Migration told Reuters.

Swiss authorities arrested Txapartegi in Zurich on April 16, 2016, after discovering she had been living with her daughter under an assumed name in Switzerland since 2009. Txapartegi was sentenced to 11 years’ jail time for supporting ETA in 2007 – a sentence that was reduced to six years and nine months in 2009, the year she fled Spain.  The sentence was cut again in February 2017 to three-and-a-half years

The authorities agreed in March to extradite Txapartegi, but freed her in September after the Spanish court decision to drop her jail sentence.

Txapartegi was denied asylum in Switzerland after the authorities rejected her claim that she was tortured into confessing while in Spanish custody. She appealed both the extradition and asylum decisions, and her case had the backing of many non-governmental and human rights organisations, as well as political parties in both Switzerland and Spain.

The UN special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, had also earlier this year urged Switzerland to reverse its decisionexternal link to extradite Txapartegi.

swissinfo.ch and agencies/ilj

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