A Staten Island man will spend nearly six years (69 months) in prison for selling a satellite TV package to New York customers that included the Hezbollah television channel Al Manar (pictured), which the feds call "a terrorist organization masquerading as a TV channel." In December, Javed Iqbal, who emigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan as a teenager, agreed to a plea deal to settle the case, which could have landed him in prison for up to 15 years. At yesterday's sentencing, he said he was "deeply sorry" for what he calls a mistake, and his lawyer tells the Times the channel was just one "narrow aspect" of a TV package that was "180 degrees from Islamic fundamentalism." But federal prosecutor Eric Snyder called Iqbal "Hezbollah’s man in New York City. He did all this to bring the Hezbollah operations to our shores, to allow Hezbollah to have their operations here in New York City. That’s a very dangerous thing." The NYCLU had defended Iqbal on First Amdendment grounds, and the trial highlights the ongoing debate over how far the government can go in coping with terrorism: Is this censorship, or just keeping America safe?
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