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Middle East

Al-Jazeera says Iran jamming broadcasts over Syria coverage

Syrian security forces stand in front of supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad who protest in front of Qatar's embassy in Damascus, Syria, against the al-Jazeera satellite news channel , Wednesday June 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Muzaffar Salman)

DOHA: Iran is jamming broadcasts by Qatar-based news channel Al-Jazeera, according to a document from satellite operator Arabsat obtained by Reuters Tuesday, with the broadcaster saying it believed it was because of its coverage of Syria. Interference is coming from two locations in Iran, one west of Tehran and the other near the northwestern city of Maraghen, the document showed.

“We believe that this is happening because of our coverage of Syria,” a senior official at Al-Jazeera told Reuters, declining to be identified.

The official indicated they believed other channels in the region had also been jammed.

Neither Arabsat nor Iranian officials were available for comment.

Iran’s regional ally Syria has mostly barred foreign media from the country and has criticized Al-Jazeera’s coverage of the upheaval there.

On Saturday Al-Jazeera announced a new frequency for Arabsat viewers due to “continued interference.”

“Over the past few months, Al-Jazeera has faced sustained interference to our satellite transmissions,” the channel said in a statement.

Al-Jazeera, owned by the Qatari government, aired round-the-clock coverage of uprisings that brought down veteran rulers in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya last year.

It often has had difficulties with Western and Arab governments in a region where governments have traditionally kept tight control on state media.

Syrian President Bashar Assad vowed Tuesday to strike “terrorists” with an iron fist and derided the Arab League for its attempts to halt violence in the uprising against his rule in a speech at Damascus University.

Syria, Assad complained, was the target of a relentless foreign media campaign. Blaming unrest on “outside planning,” he said: “The outside now regrettably includes Arabs.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 11, 2012, on page 9.

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