Kurdish station fined 2.6m kr for promoting terrorism

Roj TV hangs on to broadcasting license in spite of being judged the voice of the PKK

Copenhagen-based Kurdish TV station Roj TV was found guilty today of charges that it promoted terrorism. Roj TV, which transmits news cultural and childrenÂ’s programming to an estimated 30 million Kurds worldwide, had been charged with promoting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organisation by the US, Canada and the EU.

But while the court found the station violates anti-terror law and will be fined 2.6 million kroner, it said the license cannot be revoked because of a technicality in how the charges were brought.
Prosecutors had demanded immediate closure of the station along with a fine of 20 million kroner for Roj TV and its parent company, Mesopotamia Broadcasting.

Roj TV’s attorney Bjørn Elmquist had first requested an acquittal. He subsequently argued that the station only be required to pay the fine under today’s judgment and be allowed to retain its license until the appeals process is over.

The decision drew protests from Turkey’s ambassador to Denmark, Ahmet Berki Dibek, who was in Copenhagen City Court to witness the verdict.

Roj TV was indicted on August 15 on charges that it promoted terrorism through propaganda. The case marks the first time a Danish media organisation was prosecuted for terrorism.

Roj TV began broadcasting in Denmark in 2004. Broadcast authorities began looking into its possible ties to the PKK in 2005. Two years later the national broadcasting authority Radio- og Tv-nævnet, found that the station had incited to hatred or violence.

Former Roj TV head Manouchehr Zanoozi, who had originally admitted that Roj TV had connections to the PKK, but was not controlled by it, came forward in 2009 with incriminating photos and documents that demonstrated a strong connection between the two organisations, including an offer by the PKK to invest several million kroner into the broadcaster.

During the trial it emerged that PKK guerrillas had appeared as journalists and used the station to broadcast the names of and threaten specific Turkish soldiers. The station was also found guilty of accepting money from the PKK.

The station had been sore spot in the relationship between Turkey and Denmark. The Turkish government has long claimed that the station is a mouthpiece for the PKK, and Turkish authorities had repeatedly made formal complaint about Roj TV to Radio- og Tv-nævnet. Turkey banned the station in 2005 and accused Denmark of dragging its feet in the case.

DenmarkÂ’s decision to prosecute the case was revealed as being a reward for TurkeyÂ’s support of the appointment of Anders Fogh Rasmussen as Nato secretary general in 2009.

A leaked US embassy cable from 2010 revealed that “Denmark had promised to clarify its legal requirements prerequisite to acceding to Turkey’s request for the closure of Roj TV” in exchange for Turkey withdrawing its objection to Rasmussen.

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