August 11, 2011 / 2:19 PM / 8 years ago

Libya bans unauthorised Thurayas, to treat users as spies

RABAT (Reuters) - Libya warned Thursday that any of its citizens found using a Thuraya satellite phone without a permit would be treated as a spy for NATO.

The official JANA news agency said people using Thurayas, one of the most easily available portable satellite telephones, without a permit would be charged with collaborating with the enemy, and may face the death penalty.

“Any citizen who owns a device of the Thuraya brand must carry a permit allowing its use according to the laws and regulations in force,” JANA said.

“Spies among the traitors and the agents of ... NATO use the Thuraya telephones to give crusaders the coordinates of some locations to be bombed, which has caused the deaths of a large number of civilians,” it said.

Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Co is based in the Gulf emirate of Abu Dhabi, which Libya says is helping fund the rebel movement trying to topple leader Muammar Gaddafi, along with Qatar.

Thuraya telephones are also widely used by foreign media in situations where normal telephone communications are cut or subject to interruption and state control.

Emirates Telecommunications Corp (Etisalat) is a major shareholder in Thuraya.

Reporting by Souhail Karam; Editing by Douglas Hamilton and Karolina Tagaris

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