The usual suspects are lining up to defend Javed Iqbal for illegally providing access to the Hizballah hate network Al-Manar: Islander in TV terror link. (Hat tip: LawHawk.)
Earlier this year, the U.S. Treasury Department designated al-Manar as a global terrorist entity, freezing its U.S. assets and contending it supported Hezbollah’s fund-raising and recruiting activities. Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim militant group, has been at war with Israel in Lebanon.
Authorities charged Javed Iqbal with conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Protection Act — which is designed to prevent terrorist groups from conducting business by blocking transactions and freezing assets — after federal agents executed search warrants at two storefronts in Brooklyn and Iqbal’s Mariners Harbor home. If convicted, he could spend up to five years in prison.
At least eight satellite dishes — some of them several feet tall — were visible behind a white garage in back of Iqbal’s nondescript house on Van Name Avenue yesterday. A surveillance camera hung from the second story of Iqbal’s house, aimed at the front door and the adjacent sidewalk. …
Iqbal’s lawyer Mustapha Ndanusa yesterday called the accusations “completely ridiculous” and said he was unaware of any other instance in which someone was accused of violating U.S. laws by enabling people to access news outlets with a satellite dish.
Farhan Memon, who was assisting Ndanusa on the case, likened the charges to Iran or China banning major U.S. news stations and branding them terrorist outlets. Americans would “be hopping up and down crying, ‘Freedom of speech! Freedom of the press!’” Memon said. …
A few houses down the block, neighbors questioned why broadcasting al-Manar was illegal. “It’s just giving two sides to the story,” said one man, who also wouldn’t give his name. “He wasn’t taking the popular position in this country.”
The ACLU says terrorist propaganda is protected speech under the First Amendment.
Donna Lieberman of the American Civil Liberties Union said she is “deeply troubled” that a television distributor is being prosecuted for the content of a broadcaster. Such a prosecution, she said, “raises serious First Amendment concerns.” She said she thinks that the law under which Iqbal has been charged has a First Amendment exception for news communications.
MEMRI TV has an extensive collection of video clips from Al-Manar, if you’re unfamiliar with the genocidal, racist hatred they espouse.