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Nilesat ordered to take Libyan state channels off air

Egyptian satellite operator Nilesat must cease transmission of 14 Libyan state television channels, a court in Cairo ordered on Monday (11 July) - according to Egypt’s official news agency MENA.

The Cairo Administrative Court made its judgement following lawsuits filed by Libyan nationals and Egyptian lawyers who said that Muammar Gaddafi has exploited the channels to incite hate and violence against Libya’s rebel forces.

The Libyan leader's government spread "false information about the revolution in Libya against his rule" via the channels involved, said lawyers who brought the case to court, according to MENA.

Libya’s opposition party, the National Transitional Council (NTC), based in the eastern city of Benghazi, has repeatedly requested that Nilesat take the Libyan Jamahiriya Broadcasting channels off air. Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, vice chairman of the NTC has said the regime had “without a doubt used media as a weapon, as a bullet” to spread its propaganda.

Libyan lawyer Issam Al Mawy even claimed Gaddafi has exploited the channels to transmit military codes. All cited false reporting as a reason to take the channels off air.

One of the newly barred channels, Al-Libiyah TV, which is affiliated with Gaddafi's son Sayf-al-Islam, accused the opposition of broadcasting "Christian missionary messages" from Benghazi last month.

Nilesat had refused to comply with the NTC’s request prior to the court case as, it said, Egypt does not recognise the party as the legitimate government of Libya. "Nilesat has to take responsibility morally and legally," Mr Al Mawy told AFP in May. He claimed that by labelling the rebels ‘terrorists’, with links to Al Qaeda, the state broadcasts have helped split Libya in two.

Egypt’s ruling military has not sided with either faction in neighbouring Libya, however it has kept the border open so that supplies can reach the rebels.

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  • The Greeks are doing it. The airlines are doing it. The Egyptians are doing it. I wonder how many other countries and organisations are allowing themselves to be dictated to by the Americans and the Israelis. So much for democracy and freedom of speech!

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