September 9, 2011 / 2:08 PM / 8 years ago

French satellite firm: can't stop Gaddafi broadcasts

PARIS (Reuters) - Paris-based satellite operator Eutelsat said on Friday it had no right to turn off a Syrian television station that is broadcasting audio messages by ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Gaddafi, whose whereabouts are unknown, has defiantly spoken several times on Syria-based Arrai TV since losing control of Tripoli on Aug. 23, calling on his supporters to continue their resistance to the new authorities.

Eutel, the world’s third-largest satellite operator, said earlier it was in contact with local distributor Noorsat to see whether Noorsat could stop transmitting Arrai and sister channel al-Oruba, which has also give Gaddafi a platform to speak.

Both channels are owned by Mishan Jabouri, an Iraqi who fled to Syria after the 2003 downfall of Saddam Hussein.

“We talked to Noorsat and Noorsat removed al-Oruba,” Eutelsat spokeswoman Vanessa O’Connor said. “That was their decision and their action. Arrai is still broadcasting and as things stand at the moment we have taken it as far as we can.”

O’Connor said Eutelsat did not judge or censor content and it was not up to it to make the decision to stop transmissions.

“We can’t take it any further now in relation to Arrai,” she said. “It would require an instruction at the level above us ... at the political and regulatory level.”

The French government indirectly owns a 25 percent stake in Eutelsat through the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations.

In his latest message on Arrai on Thursday, Gaddafi vowed to fight on, saying he would not leave Libya.

“The youths are now ready to escalate the resistance against the rats in Tripoli and to finish off the mercenaries,” he said said in what the Syrian station said was a live broadcast from the North African country.

Reporting by Lionel Laurent and John Irish; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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