Reporters Without Borders is stunned by Paris-based TV satellite operator Eutelsat’s decision yesterday to stop carrying the broadcasts of Copenhagen-based Kurdish TV station Roj TV on the grounds that a Danish court found it guilty of supporting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an armed separatist group regarded by Turkey as a terrorist organization.
“We are shocked by this unilateral and outrageous decision violating freedom of expression,” Reporters Without Borders said. “By suspending carriage of Roj TV’s broadcasts, Eutelsat has done what the Danish court refrained from doing. The Danish did not order the closure of Roj TV, which has appealed against the fine it was ordered to pay.
“From China to Iran and Saudi Arabia, Eutelset has already shown its lack of regard for freedom of information. Now it is helping to promote an ‘anti-terrorist’ rhetoric with broader political implications. This is a favourite argument that repressive regimes use to justify their media freedom violations. It is also the pretext Turkey used to jail 30 journalists a month ago. Is the French government, a shareholder in Eutelsat, ready to take reponsibility for this decision?”
Eutelsat announced yesterday that, because of the Danish court ruling, it had asked its distributors to stop uplinking Roj TV to its satellites “in order to avoid incurring criminal liability as an accomplice to terrorist activities.”
Ruling on 10 January that Roj TV “supported the activities of a terrorist organization” from February 2008 to September 2010, a Copenhagen court ordered the two companies that own it to pay a large fine. But the court did not accede to a request from prosecutors to withdraw its broadcasting licence. The station has appealed against the decision.
Roj TV has repeatedly been accused of links with the PKK, embroiled since 1984 in a deadly conflict with the Turkish state that recently gained in intensity. The station’s broadcasts were received in 68 countries.