* Rights groups say they may be stolen dictatorship babies
* Battle over siblings' identity has political undertone
* Decision to give DNA sample caused surprise, suspicions
By Helen Popper
BUENOS AIRES, June 24 The adopted children of
one of Argentina's wealthiest women came forward to give blood
samples on Friday, hoping to quell suspicions they were stolen
as babies from murdered political prisoners during military
A 10-year battle by human rights activists to analyze DNA
samples from the Noble Herrera siblings, whose mother owns
Argentina's Grupo Clarin (CLA.BA) media empire, has become
increasingly politicized in recent years.
Clarin had an acrimonious falling out with center-leftist
President Cristina Fernandez in 2008 when its news outlets
criticized her handling of an uprising by farmers.
Fernandez has urged the courts to clarify the identity of
the Noble Herrera siblings, backing efforts by the rights group
the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo to find children born to
women held in secret prisons during the 1976-1983
Announcing their surprise decision to voluntarily submit
DNA earlier this month, the siblings said they wanted to put an
end to the "harassment and persecution" suffered by themselves
and their mother.
Felipe Noble Herrera and his sister Marcela, both in their
mid-30s, accuse Fernandez of using them as pawns in her row
with their mother's company, something the government denies.
"No one wants to persecute them," Cabinet chief Anibal
Fernandez said. "(Their identity) needs to be resolved and the
easiest way to do it is with a blood sample, with DNA."
The blood samples from the Noble Herrera siblings will be
submitted to a genetic database and compared to DNA taken from
the relatives of dictatorship victims.
The timing of the siblings' about-face, four months from a
presidential election, has raised some eyebrows in the South
It could prove embarrassing for Fernandez if the Noble
Herreras' DNA does not match samples in the database, because
her government has pushed hard for them to be submitted.
The Grandmothers group has identified 102 illegally adopted
children so far, although they think there could be several
hundred more who are yet to discover their true identities.
Up to 30,000 people were kidnapped and killed during the
so-called Dirty War in a state-sponsored crackdown on leftist
dissent, according to human rights groups.
Many of the babies, kidnapped with their parents or born to
captive mothers, were illegally adopted by military families or
friends of the military junta.
(Additional reporting by Karina Grazina; Editing by Xavier
(email@example.com; +54 11 4510 2505; Reuters