Eutelsat insists it never helped Tehran practice censorship
French satellite operator Eutelsat has insisted it never gave in to pressure from Tehran to censor broadcasts, rejecting criticism presented by Iranian Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi.
"Eutelsat wishes to correct Dr. Ebadi's statement that the company has ceded to political censorship from Iran and removed broadcasts of BBC Persian and Voice of America," the company's director of corporate communications, Vanessa O'Connor, wrote to AFP in an email.
Her comment came several days after Ebadi, a lawyer and human rights activist living in exile since June 2009, told a gathering in Stockholm that Eutelsat had removed the two channels from a satellite broadcasting in Iran and had thus "cooperated with the Iranian government in the sphere of censorship."
O'Connor acknowledged that "both satellite channels have been subject to intermittent jamming."
However, she stressed, the French company had cooperated with broadcasters to address the problem "by transmitting these and other Farsi channels from other satellites resistant to jamming from Iran."
"Today, BBC Persian is broadcast from three Eutelsat satellites and available throughout their entire footprint without interference, including in Iran," she said.
Eutelsat, O'Connor wrote, "has at no time cooperated with the Iranian government in the sphere of censorship and regrets these allegations."
The satellite operator has faced other recent allegations of censorship.
A Georgian television channel lost a court battle against the company in July after claiming Eutelsat had bowed to Russian pressure and blocked broadcasts.
The company meanwhile insisted it was merely offering the channel a better slot on another satellite.
A French court also recently began probing whether Eutelsat's decision to pull the plug on broadcasts by a Chinese-language TV station based in New York was truly due to technical difficulties, as claimed, or if it was politically motivated.
© 2010 AFP