Danish prosecutors charge ROJ-TV with promoting terrorism
Jan M. Olsen, Associated Press
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A Kurdish-language TV station with a Danish broadcasting license has been charged with promoting a group linked to terrorism, Danish prosecutors said Tuesday.
Top prosecutor Joergen Steen Soerensen said that Roj-TV is helping promote the PKK, or the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.
PKK rebels have been fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey in a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people since 1984. Turkey accuses Roj-TV of being a mouthpiece for the PKK.
According to Soerensen, Roj-TV has “persistently” aired shows with interviews of PKK members and supporters but also about skirmishes between Kurds and Turkish forces. The station’s content was “aimed at promoting and supporting the activities of the terrorist organization PKK” and its political wing, Kongra-Gel, the prosecutor said.
The programs “must be regarded as having the characteristics of propaganda in support of PKK,” Soerensen said. The charges came after “extremely comprehensive investigations” of the connections between Roj-TV and PKK, he added.
The charges also include Mesopotamia Broadcast A/S METV, a company behind Roj-TV.
Roj-TV has a Danish broadcasting license but has no studios in Denmark. Calls to the station were not answered, but Roj-TV officials have previously denied terror links.
In Turkey, a senior Foreign Ministry official called the decision “a very positive development” and said “it’s something Turkey has been asking for all along.”
The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with Turkish rules that bar civil servants from speaking to journalists without prior authorization.
Under Denmark’s anti-terror law, a person can face prison up to 10 years for supporting a terrorist organization.
Justice Minister Lars Barfoed welcomed the decision, saying it now was up to a court of law to consider Roj-TV’s activities.
No date has been set for the trial, which will take place at Copenhagen City Court.
Prosecutors also said they would ask the Danish Radio and Television Board to revoke the station’s license, which was issued over six years ago, based on criminal violations.
Danish-Turkish relations have long been strained over Kurdish groups based in Denmark.
In 1995, a political arm of the PKK opened its fourth European office in Copenhagen, sparking protests from the Turkish Embassy. The office later closed because of a lack of funding.
In 2000, Turkey protested that a Kurdish-language satellite TV station, Mesopotamia TV, was allowed to broadcast from Denmark to Europe, the Middle East and northern Africa.
And in 2005, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan boycotted a news conference in Copenhagen to protest the presence of Roj-TV journalists.
Associated Press writer Susan Fraser in Ankara contributed to this report.