Nokia Siemens Networks sued over Iran deal
Plaintiff - an Iranian dissident - is imprisoned in Iran
Iranian activist Isa Saharkhiz and his son Mehdi Saharkhiz have filed a lawsuit in an American court against Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) , a manufacturer of mobile telephone networks owned jointly by the Finnish Nokia and the German Siemens. The cause of action is that NSN has sold the Iranian government technology that has been used for spying on dissidents.
According to the lawsuit, Isa Saharkhiz, a journalist and dissident, was arrested because officials had eavesdropped on his telephone using equipment supplied to Iran by NSN. The surveillance happened after last year’s disputed presidential elections.
The suit calls on NSN to stop giving illegal support to the monitoring centres of the Iranian government. The suit also urges NSN to use its relations with the Iranian government to help secure Saharkhiz’s release.
The lawsuit was filed in a US Federal court in Virginia.
According to a statement by the Saharkhizs’ law firm Mowad & Hersch, Saharkhiz has been treated in an inhuman and degrading manner while in prison. His health has deteriorated, and he suffers from injuries caused by torture, because the Iranian authorities are not giving him the treatment that he needs.
Nokia Siemens Networks sold Iran a monitoring centre in 2008. The facility can be used for tracking mobile telephone traffic.
The European Parliament reprimanded NSN in February this year in a resolution stating that the equipment sold by NSN was used for censorship and eavesdropping, and has made it easier for the Iranians to persecute dissidents.
In February, Iranian Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi called on the West to punish NSN over its deals with Iran.
NSN has defended its dealings with Iran, saying that the technology that allows for the monitoring of mobile telephone traffic is “according to standard”, and similar to that in several other countries. Usually the technology is used in investigating crimes.
NSN did not want to comment on Tuesday on the lawsuit, because the company has not yet familiarised itself with the complaint.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Nokia network company sold comprehensive spy network to Iran (4.3.2010)
COMMENTARY: Iranian blunder for Nokia-Siemens Networks (12.2.2010)
Nokia Siemens Networks press release 22.6.2009: Provision of Lawful Intercept capability in Iran