Battle over Roj TV continues

Kurdish television network appeals terrorism ruling while government looks to change the law

The fate of the Copenhagen-based Kurdish television network Roj TV remains uncertain.

Last week, the Danish court fined Roj TV for supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization by the EU and the United States. The court said that between February 2008 and September 2010, the TV channel had supported terrorism by broadcasting PKK messages and that it had accepted money from the terrorist group.

The station appealed against the ruling and denied charges that it promotes terrorism. Imdat Yilmaz, the director of Roj TV, said that the channel will examine its programming but that they had no immediate plans for changes in either programs or funding.

The prosecution had sought to have the station shut down, but the court decided that a loophole in Danish law made that impossible.

The decision to allow the station to continue broadcasting angered the Turkish government, which has for years been pressuring Denmark to yank Roj TV’s licence.

Egemen Bagis, the Turkish minister for EU affairs, said in a statement that the court’s decision was “irresponsible”. Ahmet Berki Dibek, Turkey’s ambassador to Denmark, said that now that the station has been judged guilty of promoting terrorism, it should be shut down.

The Danish government has promised it will consider drafting new legislation aimed at closing Roj TV.

The justice minister, Morten Bødskov, and the culture minister, Uffe Elbæk, issued a joint statement saying that they are looking into drafting a bill that will close any loopholes preventing the closure of media outlets that promote terrorism. The ministers also promised continued co-operation with Turkey.

This is the first time that a TV station in Denmark was charged with having links to a terrorist organization.

The PKK says it is fighting for Kurdish rights and independence and denies being a terrorist group. The armed struggle in southeast Turkey has been going on since 1984 and killed more than 40,000 people.