Iraq barring of TV channels 'unacceptable': US envoy
Iraq's decision to suspend the licences of 10 satellite TV channels, a move that bars them from working in the country, is "unacceptable," the US ambassador to Iraq said on Friday.
"We must recognise that it is unacceptable to attack freedom of expression or limit the media by suspending operating licences," Ambassador Stephen Beecroft said in a statement marking World Press Freedom Day.
"Healthy democracy demands respect for responsible views, tolerance for divergent opinions, and the protection of journalists doing their vital work," Beecroft said.
The Communications and Media Commission, Iraq's media regulator, has suspended the licences of the 10 channels, including pan-Arab network Al-Jazeera and Sharqiya, a leading Iraqi station, for allegedly "encouraging violence and sectarianism."
The suspensions have drawn international condemnation, with the United Nations, Human Rights Watch and media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders all calling for Iraq to reverse the decision.