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Eutelsat should explain efforts to counter censorship by Iran, says Human Rights Watch

(Human Rights Watch/IFEX) - New York, June 25, 2010 - The French satellite operator, Eutelsat, should share any policies and procedures it has in place explicitly to safeguard freedom of expression when dealing with governments that systematically engage in censorship, Human Rights Watch said today. It should also explain its decision to suspend certain Persian-language programming from its most popular satellite after Iranian authorities began jamming its signals earlier this year.

In a letter sent to Eutelsat on June 25, 2010, Human Rights Watch repeated its requests for more information regarding the company's efforts to counter Iran's jamming of satellite signals carrying Persian-language broadcasts from BBC Persian TV and Voice of America. Human Rights Watch sent an initial letter to Eutelsat on February 8 asking the company to explain its decision to suspend the programs from its popular Hotbird 6 satellite. A follow-up letter with additional questions, including a request for information regarding Eutelsat policies and procedures in place to protect freedom of information, was sent to Eutelsat on March 17. Human Rights Watch has yet to receive a response to the second letter.

"With Tehran systematically trying to silence Iranian civil society and to cut off Iranians' access to information, telecommunications companies doing business with Tehran are on the front line of the struggle to protect freedom of information," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "These companies should have adequate policies and procedures to make sure the information keeps flowing."

Click here to read Human Rights Watch's letter

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