News / Middle East

EU Confronts Iran on Satellite Jamming

European Union nations are calling for Iran to stop jamming international satellite broadcasts and censoring the Internet.

A preliminary version of a statement that will go before EU foreign ministers next week demands that Iran cease its electronic interference immediately.  If not, the European allies say they they are prepared to take action against Iran's jamming.

Iran has interfered with signals from the British broadcaster BBC, Germany's Deutsche Welle and the French satellite operator Eutelsat to stop radio and television broadcasts.  Tehran also has jammed broadcasts by VOA's Persian News Network.

The draft EU statement that reporters obtained in Brussels Friday does not list any potential retaliatory action against Iran's jamming.  However, European news reports suggest two possible tactics: a ban on exports to Iran of equipment that enables Tehran to intercept e-mail and mobile telephone transmissions, or a decision to block Iranian broadcasts relayed by the Eutelsat communications satellite, which has been a target of the jamming.

U.S. officials say Iran has been preventing its residents from hearing or seeing news reports about anti-government protests in Iran that began after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election last year.  Tehran's electronic interference has increased sharply this year in conjunction with events marking the anniversary of the Islamic revolution that overthrew Iran's monarchy more than 30 years ago.

EU officials say Iran has violated the terms of its membership in the International Telecommunication Union, which is pledged to support international broadcasting freedom.  Complaints about Iran have been filed with the Geneva-based, ITU, but the group has has not yet taken up the issue.

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