Egypt has a history, though, of arresting bloggers and journalists and violently dispersing protests critical of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's government. On Saturday, Egyptian authorities detained an Al Jazeera journalist for allegedly fabricating scenes of torture in Egyptian police stations. The journalist was later released.
If Nilesat should buckle under US pressure, however, Al Zawraa will soon have other venues.
Station owner Mishan al-Jabouri says he's just signed contracts with Paris-based satellite provider Hot Bird and Emirates-based Arabsat. He also hopes to sign a contract soon with an American satellite company, which he didn't want to name, and to open new studios in Paris. American subtitles, too, are in the offing, he says.
"I want to show people everywhere what the Americans are doing to my country," says Mr. Jabouri, a former member of Iraq's parliament, now based in Damascus, "what American democracy has done to Iraq, how it has killed children, what has happened in the prisons, how the Americans gave Iraq to Iran."
While many see Nilesat as Al Zawraa's staunch supporter, Jabouri complains that the satellite provider is already reacting to US pressure by raising technical obstacles that prevent him from sending new footage from the field, forcing him to loop already-broadcast material.
Al Zawraa began two years ago as an above-ground, hard-line Sunni TV station, based in Iraq, until the Iraqi government closed it down last November, around the time Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death. Today, it's an underground station with brutal, no-holds-barred content, often amateur, shaky footage showing American soldiers crumpling to the ground after being shoot, and alleged American atrocities against Iraqi civilians. The station's anchors wear military fatigues and rail against the Shiite-led Iraqi government.