Intelsat blocks Iranian channels in Europe
WASHINGTON — International satellite services provider Intelsat has blocked Iran’s official broadcast channels in Europe, a company spokesman said Thursday.
But it would not confirm or deny an Iranian report that it did so at the order of the US government.
“Intelsat confirms that we took IRIB (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting) channels off the satellite,” Alexander Horwitz, a spokesman for the Washington-based company, told AFP.
“Our business is a dynamic one, in which the customers’ requirements and our available capacity are constantly changing, and thus the start and stop of services on our satellites is routine,” he said, without providing further details.
The Intelsat spokesman was questioned about a report by Iranian state-owned English language network Press TV that said Intelsat had taken a number of Iranian channels off the air in Europe on the order of the United States, in order to tighten sanctions on Tehran.
The channels that were shut down included Sahar, Jam-e-Jam, Islamic Republic of Iran News Network and al-Kowsar, said Press TV, a unit of IRIB.
Press TV said it was not among the channels removed.
Horwitz declined to identify the IRIB channels that were affected by Intelsat’s move.
According to Press TV, Intelsat was ordered to take the action by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the economic and trade sanctions arm of the US Treasury Department.
A Treasury spokesman, questioned by AFP about the report, declined to comment.
Horwitz said that Intelsat still holds a license, amid sweeping US sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, to provide certain broadcast services in Iran.
Intelsat also transmits the Farsi language program of Voice of America.
“Intelsat adheres strictly to the US sanctions requirements with respect to the services it provides in Iran,” Horwitz said.
Iranian authorities protested publicly on October 16 against European satellite operator Eutelsat, accusing it of illegally taking off the air Iranian public television channels.
Last week, European Union foreign ministers agreed tough new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, which the West says is aimed at building an atomic bomb but which Tehran insists is for peaceful ends only.