Nokia Siemens Networks: We cannot apologise on behalf of torturers
Bahraini authorities used Siemens equipment to spy on voice and data communications of a human rights activist
Security officials in authoritarian Bahrain have used surveillance equipment manufactured by Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) in order to eavesdrop on personal mobile phone conversations of a human rights activist and to read his text messages, reports the US news agency Bloomberg.
According to Bloomberg, the officials assaulted and tortured the human rights activist.
According to Barry French, the Head of Marketing and Corporate Affairs at NSN, the company has not sold the surveillance equipment in question to Bahrain, as it was sold by the German conglomerate Siemens.
Nokia Siemens Networks was established in 2007 by merging the network operations of the Finnish mobile phone manufacturer Nokia with those of the German conglomerate Siemens.
”We cannot apologise on behalf of torturers, as we are not responsible for these illegal acts. The torturers should be held responsible for those actions. We do not have any possibility to control whether or not the officials of a given state misuse the equipment we deliver”, says French.
In 2009, NSN divested the unit that sold surveillance systems.
The decision was made when it turned out that Iran had used surveillance systems similar to those in Bahrain to persecute dissidents.
The unit was sold to Trovicor, a company which had previously split off from Siemens. Trovicor has also delivered surveillance systems to Egypt, Syria, and Jemen, according to Bloomberg.
French says that the Iran case was a lesson to the company. Today, NSN stresses in all its operations that the company is committed to upholding human rights, encouraging its employees to report all anomalies.
The electronic surveillance equipment sold by NSN is a separate system that can be used for monitoring mobile telephone traffic.
In many countries, the operators have a legal obligation to record all log data and to provide technology that allows for telemonitoring and remote surveillance, in order that crimes and wrongdoings can be investigated.
In a state governed by the rule of law, authorities need a court order signed by a judge before they can listen to phone conversations and read SMS messages.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Nokia Siemens Networks sued over Iran deal (18.8.2010)
Nokia network company sold comprehensive spy network to Iran (1.3.2010)
COMMENTARY: Iranian blunder for Nokia-Siemens Networks (12.2.2010)
Bloomberg: Torture in Bahrain Becomes Routine With Help From Nokia Siemens (Aug. 23)