World Bulletin / News Desk
European satellite TV operator Eutelsat has been ordered to reconnect the signal of Kurdish channel Newroz TV, one month after bowing to Turkish pressure to take it off the air.
A Paris commercial court ruled on Monday that "the interruption of transmission ... was a clear violation" and provoked "obviously illicit trouble" for the Swedish company, Stiftelsen Kurdish Media (SKM), which broadcasts Newroz.
"They shut our news channel without evidence; that should not happen in Europe," Faruk Nozhatzadeh, head of Newroz TV, told AFP.
"In the countries we come from, these things happen every day... but in Europe it was shocking that Eutelsat took such a decision."
The court said Eutelsat would have to pay a fine of 10,000 euros ($10,700) a day if it fails to respect the order.
Eutelsat took Newroz off air on October 11 at the behest of the Turkish audiovisual authority (RTUK), which accuses the station of having links with the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), an organisation branded terrorists by Turkey, the European Union and the United States of America.
But the court said that other than making "a simple claim", RTUK had not only failed to prove any links between Newroz and the PKK.
"One is easily labelled over terrorism and propaganda but I don't think we have a propaganda channel," said Nozhatzadeh, whose station transmits from a Stockholm suburb.
"We have shown the reality like all the other news channels. We have followed all the laws in Sweden."
Nozhatzadeh denied his station had any connections to the PKK but said "we support all Kurdish (political) parties" although "that doesn't mean that we have connections" to them.
RTUK had also asked Eutelsat to block the signal of another Kurdish satellite channel, Med-Nuce TV, last month while Turkish police raided the Istanbul headquarters of prominent pro-Kurdish television channel IMC TV, cutting all its transmissions.
In September, Ankara stopped broadcasts of 10 mostly Kurdish language television channels and took two radio stations off air.
Turkish authorities have been clamping down on any potentially dissenting voices since July's failed coup, with more than 100 journalists arrested and 170 media outlets closed down.
Military officers, civil servants, judges and teachers are also amongst some 35,000 people who have been detained while tens of thousands more have lost their jobs.
But this defeat will stun Turkish authorities, Nozhatzadeh said.
"This was a hard blow for Turkey. They expected the court to take their side but this time they have lost."
Eutelsat, which had previously explained its actions by saying it had to "abide" by the demands of the Turkish authorities as it is present in Turkey, could yet appeal the court's decision.
Nonetheless, Nozhatzadeh said Newroz could be back on air as early as Wednesday.
Last Mod: 15 Kasım 2016, 19:49