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Argentina accuses U.S. judge of abusing power in debt case

By Hugh Bronstein

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina on Friday said U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa was trying to "provoke a default" by keeping the South American country from paying its debt in what it called an abuse of judicial power.

By blocking a payment that Argentina has attempted to make to holders of its restructured bonds, the judge "has abused his power," a statement from the government said.

The tough language was part of a 12-year-long legal chess game between Argentina and creditors who refused to accept the downgraded terms offered by the country's 2005 and 2010 debt restructurings and are suing for full repayment.

Earlier on Friday Griesa called Argentina's decision to make a sovereign debt payment in defiance of a court order an "explosive action" and ordered that the money be returned to the government.

"The judge has attempted to block the payment," the statement said. "By doing this he has abused his power and gone outside of his jurisdiction because the holders of restructured bonds are not the object of this litigation."

"He has tried to provoke our country to default," the government's statement said, calling Griesa's decision "senseless and unheard of."