2 US men charged with broadcasting Hezbollah TV
NEW YORK, Nov 21: US authorities brought terrorism charges against two men for providing satellite broadcasts of Hezbollah television channel al-Manar to US customers, according to an unsealed indictment.
Saleh Elahwal, 53, and Javed Iqbal, 42, were charged with providing material support to al-Manar -- branded by the United States as a foreign terrorist organization in March -- the indictment said. Each faces a maximum of 110 years in prison if convicted of all 11 counts.
Both men pleaded not guilty during a hearing in Manhattan federal court. Elahwal was released on 400,000 dollar bail, while Iqbal was released on 250,000 dollar bail.
Lawyers for both men did not comment. The men are due to appear again on January. 8.
The US Treasury Department froze the US assets of al-Manar in March, saying it supported the fund-raising and recruitment activities of Hezbollah, a Shi'ite Muslim group backed by Syria and Iran.
Iqbal, a Pakistani who moved to the United States 24 years ago and lives in New York, was arrested and first charged in August with providing satellite customers with the Hezbollah-operated channel.
According to the new charges, between September 2005 and August 2006, the two men used the television company they own, Brooklyn-based HDTV Ltd., to negotiate with representatives of the al-Manar network to air the channel, according to the indictment.
Court documents said Elahwal, who lives in New Jersey, and Iqbal were paid by al-Manar more than 111,000 dollar between December and March.
The channel provided wide coverage of the war between Hezbollah and Israel last summer, broadcasting exclusive footage shot by Hezbollah guerrillas. It was attacked by Israeli airstrikes during the fighting.