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INTELSAT SWITCHES OFF LTTE FROM THEIR SATELLITE

INTELSAT INFORMS WASHINGTON EMBASSY OF SRI LANKA IT SWITCHED OFF LTTE BROADCASTS FROM THEIR SATELLITE

By Walter Jayawardhana

Sri Lanka’s envoy in Washington DC said his office had been given an assurance by Washington based Intelsat Corporation that they have switched off the transponder used by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to broadcast its propaganda during the last weekend.

“We were told last evening by Intelsat executive Phillip Spector that the transponder used by the LTTE was switched off during the weekend,” Bernard Goonetileke, Washington DC’s Sri Lankan Ambassador told this correspondent.

But however, Goonetileke said he was still not sure whether the banned terrorist group has made some other arrangements with an European satellite company to carry on with the broadcasts continually.

He said inquiries are made to check whether LTTE is continuing its broadcasts and whether they are doing it through another channel, suspected to be Globe Cast satellite of a European company.

A press release issued by the Washington DC embassy of Sri Lanka said, “Intelsat Ltd., a U.S. based satellite company has terminated the “unauthorized” use of one of its satellites, Intelsat12, by the Sri Lanka based terrorist organization, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), for its TV and radio transmissions to Europe and Asia”

The Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Intelsat Ltd., Mr. Phillip Spector, confirmed to Rajika Jayatilake, Counselor (Information) at the Sri Lanka Embassy in Washington DC, that Intelsat Ltd., had, over the April 21/22 weekend, shut down the transponder, which the LTTE had used for its transmissions, the press release said further.

Whatever new channel the LTTE is using will have to be advertised through some means since the viewers and listeners of its propaganda have to be informed about the changes in the broadcasting frequencies. So far, no such advertisement has been found.

Following the meeting with Ambassador Goonetileke on April 10, 2007, Mr. Phillip Spector of Intelsat Ltd., stated that the LTTE transmissions were “unauthorized.” Countering the position taken by Intelsat Ltd., speaking from Sri Lanka’s north to wire services in Colombo, the LTTE denied it was using the satellite services illegally. “We are accessing it legally and there is no signal piracy,” said an LTTE spokesman.

However, inquiries by this correspondent could not find out any evidence to confirm the statement of Phillip Spector that the LTTE was a pirate of the satellite.

The embassy press statement traced the history of the LTTE-INTELSAT connection as follows: “Since March 2005, the LTTE had been transmitting TV and radio programs through Europe Star 1 satellite owned by French satellite provider Alcatel. PanAmSat, a satellite operator headquartered in Wilton, Connecticut in the U.S., acquired Europe Star 1 satellite in July 2005. In July 2006, Intelsat Ltd., acquired PanAmSat, following which, Europe Star 1 satellite was renamed Intelsat12. The programs that the LTTE had been transmitting through Europe Star 1, thus continued uninterrupted even after Intelsat Ltd., acquired the satellite.”

It is believed that it was the intense pressure used by the Washington Embassy of Sri Lanka and the US State Department and the Department of Justice together with press publicity that was adversely effecting the Intelsat that finally brought an end of the deal.

The Sri Lanka Embassy said, the U.S. Department of State and the Department of Justice had both been informed that a terrorist group designated by the U.S. as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), was using a satellite owned by a U.S. based satellite company to transmit their TV and radio programs to Europe and Asia.

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April 25, 2007 - Posted by | International News

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