Intelsat to turn off LTTE beam
Tigers’ satellite piracy bared
US: The Washington-based Intelsat gave a firm assurance
yesterday that it would take all possible steps to stop the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) from illegally broadcasting its propaganda
over their satellites.
“Intelsat does not tolerate terrorists operating illegally on it
satellites. Since we first learned of the LTTE’s signal piracy, we have
been actively pursuing a number of technical alternatives to halt the
transmissions. We are clear in our resolve to ending this terrorist
organisation’s unauthorised use of our satellite,” Intelsat, the world’s
largest provider of fixed satellite services, said in a statement.
The announcement came after Intelsat officials and technical experts
met Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the United States Bernard Goonetilleke on
Tuesday to discuss the steps Intelsat was taking to address the
unauthorised use of one of its satellites by the LTTE.
“We have been actively pursuing avenues to terminate the illegal
usage of our satellite,” Intelsat spokesman Nick Mitsis said.
In a telephone interview, Intelsat’s Executive Vice President and
General Counsel Phillip Spector told this correspondent that his
corporation would do “every possible thing to turn off the LTTE
(sponsored national Television of Tamil Eelam and Voice of the Tigers
radio programme) as soon as possible” from their satellite.
Spector maintained the position of the corporation that the LTTE was
pirating an empty transponder frequency of their Satellite 12 for the
broadcasts. He said it was actually stealing the space of the satellite
and called it piracy.
Asked whether al-Qaeda could use the same satellite for the purpose
of an attack against the United States, Spector said it was only a
hypothetical situation. But when pressed for an answer, Spector said it
was technically possible.
Spector said no customer is authorised to sell their frequency to
anybody else and maintained it was an empty space the LTTE was using.
Spector denied earlier published newspaper reports that Intelsat has
done business with Hezbollah, another terrorist group, and insisted “Not
in my time”.
While refusing to give a date for turning off the LTTE, the Intelsat
lawyer said “if you understand the satellite technology it is quite a
complex task and it will be done as soon as possible”.
Intelsat said: “Intelsat, the leading provider of global satellite
communications, today issued a statement with regard to the unauthorised
use of one of its satellites by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
The US State Department lists the LTTE as a foreign terrorist
The Sri Lanka Embassy and Intelsat agree that these illegal
transmissions by the LTTE are a violation of Sri Lankan and US laws.
Following the dis
cussion, Ambassador Goonetilleke said: “I am satisfied that Intelsat
is taking these unauthorised transmissions very seriously, and believe
it would do all that it can to stop the terrorist transmissions. I am
confident that Intelsat will continue to cooperate with Sri Lankan
authorities in this matter.”
The issue was also taken up by Sri Lanka at a meeting of the
International Telecommunications Satellite Organisation in Paris last
month, Sri Lankan officials said.