NY man charged for beaming Hezbollah TV

Lindsay Beyerstein in Majikthise:

A New York City businessman is facing charges for making broadcasts from Hezbollah’s al-Manar satellite TV station available to New Yorkers. [BBC]

The right wing tabloids have been all over this story. I’m surprised that the arrest of Javed Iqbal hasn’t generated more attention from civil libertarians.

This case could set some very troubling precedents. So far, he has been charged with doing business with a terrorist entity, but there may be more serious charges to come:

Prosecutor Stephen A Miller had argued against granting him bail, indicating more charges were likely to be filed.

“The charge lurking in the background is material support for terrorism,” the Associated Press news agency quotes him as saying. [BBC]

We can’t treat all dealings with Hezbollah as if they were the equivalent of dealings with an Al Qaeda cell. Like it or not, Hezbollah has an institutional and political presence in the region as well as a military force. Hezbollah runs hospitals, schools, and other social service agencies. Hezbollah members sit in the Lebanese legislature. The US government didn’t sever diplomatic relations with Lebanon just because members of Hezbollah have seats in the Lebanese legislature. Why should we hold American businesspeople to a stricter standard?

More here, including quite a discussion in the comments.