PARIS (Reuters) - French defence electronics firm Thales denied accusations by human rights campaigners it sold equipment to China that has helped Beijing scramble radio broadcasts.
French philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy said in articles published in the past week that equipment sold by Thales was used to block foreign radio broadcasts into China, “particularly into areas such as Tibet”.
Media rights campaign group Reporters Without Borders has also said antennae manufactured by Thales is allowing China to interfere with radio broadcasts.
Thales said a former subsidiary had indeed sold “standard short-wave radio broadcasting equipment to China” in 2002 but the equipment was designed for legal civil purposes.
“The equipment has been exclusively designed for general public radio broadcasting, and is identical with equipment installed in numerous countries worldwide,” Thales said in a statement. No other similar kit was sold to China, it said.
Levy is among a number of high-profile campaigners urging the West to boycott the Olympic Games this year amid criticism of Beijing’s response to recent anti-China protests in Tibet.
“It’s not too late to use the threat of boycotting the Olympics as a weapon,” Levy wrote in Britain’s Sunday Telegraph.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has not ruled out refusing to attend the Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing, after accepting an invitation from President Hu Jintao in October, but most European leaders have taken a wait-and-see position.
Reporting by Amy Kraft, editing by Tim Hepher and Mary Gabriel