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EU denounces Iran's jamming of satellite TV broadcasts

BRUSSELS (AFP) — The European Union on Wednesday denounced Iran's "deliberate jamming" of television and radio satellite broadcasts that deprive its citizens of access to free information, and called on Tehran to abide by global telecommunications laws.

"Since 2009, repeated waves of jamming have affected the signals of European satellites in the Middle East," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement.

"Such jamming, whose origin has been traced to Iran in particular, are hammering the broadcast of international media on Iranian territory."

Among the affected broadcasters were Britain's BBC, France 24, US-funded Voice of America and Germany's Deutsche Welle, Ashton said.

She added that the jamming had intensified since mid-October and was obstructing more than 500 television channels and 200 radio channels.

Ashton called on Tehran to abide by its international obligations in the matter and to "cooperate in the detection and elimination of harmful interference".

Iran responded by denouncing the double standard of certain Western countries, with foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast accusing the countries of recently jamming Iranian television broadcasts, the official IRNA news agency reported.

In mid-October, the French-based satellite provider Eutelsat and Britain's Arqiva turned off state television channels, a move based on reinforced EU sanctions against Iran.

Last week, the United States unveiled sanctions against four Iranians and five Iranian bodies, including the communications minister and the culture ministry, for censoring the media and the Internet.