Maestro said that "solidarity is legitimate and only by exercising it can we keep it legitimate."

John Catalinotto

Feb. 5 -- Today members of the Red Network, Ángeles Maestro, María Barriuso and Beatriz Torre, testified before the Spanish Audiencia Nacional [special court] after being accused of "financing terrorism" when they showed solidarity with the cause of the Palestinian people in 2014 and 2015.

Maestro said that "solidarity is legitimate and only by exercising it can we keep it legitimate."

After appearing around 11 a.m. before Justice Manuel García Castellón of the Audiencia Nacional, the three accused activists made a statement to the press.

Maestro, the current leader of Red Network, a former IU (United Left) deputy in the National Congress elected in 1989 (and re-elected in 1993 and 1996), was greeted with applause by her comrades, as well as by the IU City Council member in Madrid, Carlos Sanchez Mato.

Maestro said she has a "clear conscience" and is confident that in the end the charges against her and the two other Red Network activists will be dropped.

Maestro, Barriuso and Torre were accused of the alleged crime of "financing terrorism." In mid-2014 and late 2015 they promoted the collection of economic solidarity aid to send to the Palestinian people, following the deaths, injuries and damages caused by Israel's military offensive against the Gaza Strip known as "Operation Protective Edge."

The complaint was filed by the pro-Israel association, Law Force Project Spain, and the Jewish Cultural Association of Ibiza, which has since withdrawn from the proceedings. A U.S. lawyer is pursuing the accusation.

In 2014, the Red Network raised a total of 5,300 euros in a campaign on its website. It handed this sum to Palestinian activist Leila Khaled, who was in Spain at the invitation of a Barcelona City Council-sponsored literary fair. One year later, after another Israeli incursion into Gaza, the Red Network collected 3,085 euros in the same way and gave this to representatives of the Palestinian National Authority in Spain.

The basis for the accusation is Khaled's membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, an organization included in the European Union’s list of terrorist groups.

Maestro declared before the judge of the Audiencia Nacional that she had no knowledge that the Palestinian activist was part of the PFLP or that this organization was listed as a "terrorist group" when she promoted the collection of funds for the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.

"The indictment focused on who we gave the money to, but Palestine is not an easy place to send money by bank transfer. In 2014 Leila Khaled, the most important living symbol or icon of the Palestinian people, was here and we gave it to her," Maestro explained to the media.

"I was not aware that she was a leader of the PFLP because that is not what she is famous for," said Maestro. "She symbolizes in herself the struggle of the Palestinian people beyond whether she is part of an organization or not. And I absolutely did not know that the Popular Front was on a European list of terrorist organizations since 2002 because [PFLP] representatives move freely."

Maestro's defense has offered the judge valid proof that the final destination of those funds was health institutions, although she trusts that the procedure will be filed in an official manner. Her defense will urge dismissal of all charges.

"It's all a little unusual, to be honest. Who is the terrorist, the one who invades a country or the one who tries to resist?" said Maestro, the former deputy.

For Nines, as she is popularly known, "solidarity is legitimate" and "to legitimize solidarity means to do it, to exercise it, not to have it hung like a plaque on a wall."


Ángeles Maestro has contributed articles to Workers World, the latest one on Jan. 3. (tinyurl.com/yyzevt9r)