HONG KONG - The Falun Gong spiritual movement dismissed on Wednesday accusations by a Hong Kong-based satellite operator that it had hacked into a satellite to beam transmissions into mainland China.
"The accusation is completely groundless, we do not know what this whole thing is and we do not know who may be doing it," said Kan Hung-cheung, a Hong Kong-based spokesman for the group.
China's official Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday that Asia Satellite Telecommunications Co Ltd (AsiaSat) said Falun Gong interrupted transmissions on Monday on several provincial channels to broadcast information about the group into China, where Falun Gong is banned as an "evil cult."
AsiaSat accused Falun Gong of a similar operation on November 22. At that time, a Falun Gong spokeswoman in Hong Kong said she knew nothing about any hacking.
Xinhua said AsiaSat condemned the illegal transmissions at a news conference in Hong Kong and reserved the right to take legal action.
Beijing banned the Falun Gong in 1999 after 10,000 members besieged the compound of the Chinese leadership in the capital to demand official recognition for their faith.
But the movement, which combines Taoism, Buddhism and traditional Chinese breathing exercises, remains legal in Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
A Falun Gong Web site, www.clearwisdom.net, says that in the past five years China has tortured more than 1,121 practitioners to death, jailed at least 6,000 and sent more than 100,000 to labour camps. The figures could not be independently confirmed.
Two years ago, China accused the Falun Gong of hijacking satellite signals to disrupt state media broadcasts, saying it had pinpointed the origin of the disruption to Taiwan.