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Regime jams foreign-based radio stations again

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has deplored the North Korean government's resumption on 11 May 2007 of its jamming of independent and dissident radio stations broadcasting in Korean from outside the country and called on the South Korean government and the international community to defend their right to broadcast freely.

"North and South Korea are celebrating the historic reopening of a railway line between the two countries, yet the Pyongyang regime is trying to stop North Koreans from getting news other than that served up by the regime," the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "This is a violation of international law."

The programmes of radio stations Free North Korea Radio, Voice of America, Open Radio for North Korea, Radio Free Asia and Radio Free Chosun (all based in South Korea or the United States) are those targeted, according to the Northeast Asian Broadcasting Institute and the International Shortwave Club.

North Korea's ruling Labour Party, the only party allowed, last month denounced news from the outside world that allegedly aimed to destabilise the regime and ordered the security forces to stop all video cassettes, written material, mobile phones and CDs from entering the country.

The jamming may have been part of these measures or, an Open Radio official told Reporters Without Borders, may have been linked to the reopening of the railway. Jamming of these short-wave stations had substantially declined since last July.

North Korea's serious energy crisis apparently prevents the regime jamming all frequencies round the clock.

North Korea is ranked bottom in the Reporters Without Borders worldwide Press Freedom Index.

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