Falun Gong Denies Pirate Broadcast in China

Defends Move to Counter Chinese Propaganda

HONG KONG–Falun Gong denied Tuesday hacking into a satellite feed to spread its banned message in China, but defended broadcast interruptions as an acceptable way to counter the mainland government’s propaganda against the spiritual group.

Hong Kong satellite company AsiaSat said a pirate broadcast on Falun Gong _ which combines slow-motion exercise with Buddhist and Taoist beliefs _ overrode signals sent by one of its satellites to television stations in China over the weekend.

Falun Gong Hong Kong spokeswoman Hui Yee-han on Tuesday said her group neither possessed the technological expertise nor the resources to break into a satellite broadcast.

“We don’t have that kind of money,” Hui told The Associated Press by phone.

Falun Gong followers or supporters have been accused of interrupting cable and satellite broadcasts in China in the past, and Hui acknowledged one Chinese Falun Gong practitioner previously hacked into a cable TV system.

But she defended the practice as an “acceptable” way to clear Falun Gong’s name against Chinese authorities’ negative propaganda about the spiritual group.

Falun Gong, banned in China as an “evil cult,” claims more than 1,100 of its followers have died under Chinese government persecution. China says Falun Gong’s teachings prompt followers to commit murder or suicide.

AsiaSat Chief Executive Peter Jackson said Tuesday the strength of the pirate signal suggested it came from a large satellite dish, like one used by companies or governments.

Jackson said the broadcast was too short to trace. He said the 12-minute broadcast featured people wearing yellow shirts _ the signature garb of Falun Gong followers _ with messages about the group written on them.

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