nasrallah al-manar 248 88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Pakistan-born owner of a satellite TV company has pleaded guilty to providing material aid to a terrorist organization by letting customers receive broadcasts from Hizbullah's television station.
Javed Iqbal entered the plea in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday. He declined comment afterward. As part of the plea, Iqbal agreed to serve a prison term of up to six and a half years. Sentencing was set for March 24.
Prosecutors said Iqbal used satellite dishes on his Staten Island home to distribute broadcasts of Al Manar, the television station of the Lebanon-based organization that has been fighting Israel since the early 1980s.
Israel and the US consider Hizbullah a terrorist organization and accuse it of being behind deadly attacks in Lebanon and abroad.
Iqbal, 45, was born in Pakistan but has lived in the United States for more than 20 years. He is a permanent resident with five children. A former New York Police Department officer was among those who signed his $250,000 bail package.
Although Americans are granted freedom of speech under the First Amendment to the Constitution, the government contended in this case that Iqbal was not entitled to arrange the satellite broadcast of an organization designated as a terrorist group, regardless of the message.
Lebanon's information minister, Ghazi Aridi, had criticized Iqbal's arrest, calling it an "attack against freedoms (that) robs a large section of people from watching a specific channel."