Saturday, July 9, 2011

EU rejects restrictions on Press TV Ltd.

Britain's National Westminster (NatWest) Bank has frozen assets belonging to independent television production company Press TV Ltd.

Source: Press TV

The European External Action Service (EEAS) has rejected Britain's restrictive measures against independent television production company Press TV Ltd.

Responding to a letter written to the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton about restrictions imposed on the company, the EEAS confirmed on Wednesday that the London-based Press TV Ltd. “is not targeted by the UN Security Council's sanctions against Iran.”

However, the EU department, which functions as the EU's foreign ministry and is under Ashton's authority, said it could not “influence the decisions of EU private operators taken in view of such restrictive measure.”

The long-awaited letter advised Press TV Ltd. to convey its complaint to the European Court of Human Rights.

In its letter of December 7, 2010, the National Westminster (NatWest) Bank announced its closure of Press TV Ltd.'s bank accounts, stating that NatWest has refused to explain the reasons behind the move.

NatWest, which is part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, blocked GBP 200,000 of Press TV Ltd.'s income, while legal advisors argue that banks cannot freeze the accounts of media that has been operating under the regulations of the host country.

Press TV condemned the illegal step taken by the UK government, arguing that it has not received a court order classifying Press TV Ltd's programs as being in violation of British rules.

The Royal Bank of Scotland Group is a British state-owned banking company in which the UK Treasury holds an 84-percent controlling share.

Britain's government plunged into controversy when a recent Wikileaks cable revealed that London was trying to find ways to silence Press TV Ltd. as a production company.

Press TV Ltd. was incorporated to produce news, factual programs and documentaries to be sold to the Tehran-based Press TV News Network. The company produces programs that report on current affairs around the world, some of which are critical of UK and Israeli politics.

"We entered into a commercial agreement with NatWest, not a political one," said the London-based firm, adding that it was appalled by NatWest's decision.

"However, when we witness the violent attacks on our Satellite Van, our vehicles, our cameramen and our equipment, the recent demonetisations campaign by the BBC and ITN of Ken Livingstone, and the threats to our presenters, such as George Galloway in the Houses of Parliament, and the death threats to our colleagues, the detention and imprisonment of our British reporter and the theft of our equipment by Israel in international waters, with the British government not showing any reaction to any of the above incidents, it is reasonable for us to question their position, particularly following the Wikileaks cable in The Guardian about Her Majesty's government's alleged intentions to close down Press TV Ltd.”

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