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Spain grovels to penguins over 'Linux' anti-terror plot

Violent separatist IT genius crackdown in codename kerfuffle

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The Spanish Ministry of the Interior has expressed its regret that an international crackdown on IT masterminds inside the violent Basque separatist group ETA was dubbed "Operation Linux".

Apparently, penguin-loving outfits are complaining that the antiterrorist operation sullies their good name.

"The Ministry of Home Affairs regrets the coincidence [involving] the trade name of some companies and other organizations and the damage it may cause," the Ministry statement reads, according to Google Translate.

"The Home Office is grateful for the free development of technology based on the Linux operating system, driven by users, organizations, and businesses, and [it believes Linux] is an extremely useful tool for research by the ... State Security Forces to ensure the safety of citizens."

In fact, the State Security Forces are currently running Linux. That's why they, um, called it Operation Linux.

On Tuesday, Operation Linux – which teamed the Guardia Civil with French anti-terrorism services – led to the arrest of Iraitz Gesalaga Fernández, believed to be ETA's encryption expert. Fernández, 27, was arrested in the southern French town of Ciboure, according to a separate statement from the Spanish government, and his righthand woman, Itxaso Uritiaga Valderrama, 21, was cuffed in the Basque city of Zarautz.

According to police investigations, Fernández was responsible for the ETA's latest efforts to encrypt its communications, and the arrests were hailed as an "important blow" to the separatist group.

Operation Linux is ongoing, and it may yield more arrests. And it would appear the authorities have no intention of changing the codename – which must make some people very unhappy.

Others may find it odd that penguin lovers have complained that a crackdown on Basque separatist IT geniuses uses the Linux name. But the news is hardly surprising. Penguin lovers have been known to complain about things that are ultimately of no consequence whatsoever. ®

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