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US jails man over Hezbollah channel
Pakistani man jailed for broadcasting Al Manar station inside the US.
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2009 09:18 GMT
Al Manar broadcasts the speeches of Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader [AFP]

A Pakistani man has been jailed by a US court for broadcasting Hezbollah's television channel and selling it to customers in the US.

Javed Iqbal was sentenced to more than five and a half years in prison for broadcasting Al Manar channel, run by Hezbollah, an armed Lebanese group branded a terrorist organisation by the US.

"I did not make a profit of broadcasting Al Manar and it cost me my life," Iqbal's lawyer, Joshua Dratel, read from a prepared statement on behalf of his client.

Iqbal had pleaded guilty to the charges in December.

The US treasury labelled Al Manar a terrorist organisation in March 2006, saying it supported Hezbollah's fund-raising and recruitment activities.

'Hezbollah's man in NY'

Prosecutors said Iqbal, who moved to the US more than 26 years ago, provided transmission services to the Beirut-based channel in return for payment in 2005 and 2006 and sold the channel to US customers through his company, HDTV Ltd.

"He was, in a very real sense, Hezbollah's man in New York city," said Eric Snyder, a prosecutor, during the sentencing hearing, saying the Lebanese group used the channel to recruit new members.

Dratel said Iqbal did not support Hezbollah and sold the channel to make money as part of his satellite television business that also included Christian channels and adult entertainment.

Iqbal had been financially ruined by the charges which "had devastated him and his family", including his pregnant wife and five children, Dratel said.

A second man, Saleh Elahwal, who also worked for the company, has also pleaded guilty to charges.

Source:
Agencies
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