ROJ TV dispute reaches high court

Defence hopes that Kurdish broadcaster gets a fairer trial than was the case in a Copenhagen court earlier this year

The Eastern High Court heard opening arguments in the appeal of Copenhagen-based Kurdish TV-station ROJ TV, which was found guilty in January of operating as a propaganda instrument for a terrorist organisation.

The station is appealing the 5.2 million kroner fine, which was handed down by the Copenhagen City Court after it found that the Kurdish separatist movement and terror organisation Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) had financed ROJ TV between 2006 and 2010.

Bjørn Elmquist, the defense attorney representing ROJ TV, contended that he didn’t feel that the city court's ruling was fair.

“We were denied the chance to produce certain witnesses and the opportunity of playing ROJ TV segments that we felt furthered our case,” Elmquist told Berlingske newspaper, adding that high court had accommodated most of his requests to call witnesses and show examples of the station's programming.

The case won’t be very dramatic to start with, as the court will go through January's 190-page decision and revisit various evidence entered by both sides. A decision is expected by June.

ROJ TV has been a thorn in eye of the Danish-Turkish relationship in recent years, culminating in 2009 when Turkey opposed the candidacy of then-PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen as NATO secretary general.

Speaking to Reuters last month, Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Scandinavian countries share in the blame for the increased violence between the PKK and government forces in his country.

Factfile | ROJ TV timeline

June 2005: Copenhagen Police transfer the case to the attorney general’s office because of its ‘precedent-setting nature’ and due to its public interest. It is sent back to the police in order to collect more evidence

November 2005: Turkish PM Erdogan refused to take part in a press conference with then-PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen while visiting Denmark, because a ROJ TV journalist was present at the conference

February 2007: The attorney general’s office sends the case back to the police once again for further investigation

March 2009: As Rasmussen attempts to gain Turkey's support for his NATO candidacy, representatives from the Copenhagen Police and the attorney general’s office travel to Turkey to investigate the case further

March 2010: Danish officials contend that ROJ TV has illegally received 118 million kroner in financial support

August 2010: The attorney general charges ROJ TV for being a terror organisation on the same day that Anders Fogh Rasmussen pays an official visit to Denmark as NATO secretary general

January 2012: Copenhagen City Court convicts the two companies operating ROJ TV (ROJ TV A/S and Mesopotamia Broadcast A/S) of promoting a terrorist organisation from 2006 to 2010 and are fined 5.2 million kroner. The sentence is appealed to the Eastern High Court

September 2012: The police arrest a group of eight Copenhagen-area men for sending upwards of 140 million kroner to the PKK and charge them with financing terrorism

Spetember 26, 2012: Radio and TV oversight officials impose a two-month broadcasting ban on ROJ TV for not living up to its responsibility to record and archive all their programmes