Iranian activist sues NSN

Telecom vendor denies it is culpable in the arrest of Iranian dissident in 2009

Tags: Nokia Siemens Networks
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Iranian activist sues NSN Nokia Siemens Networks defended its work in Iran after an Iranian journalist filed a lawsuit against the firm.
By  Roger Field Published  August 22, 2010

Nokia Siemens Networks has denied any wrongdoing after an Iranian journalist who was arrested following Iran's disputed election in 2009 filed a lawsuit against the telecom vendor for alleged human rights abuses.

Isa Saharkhiz, who was detained during the protests that followed the 2009 election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, claimed that his cell phone was monitored using surveillance technology from Nokia Siemens Networks.

Saharkhiz, along with his son Mehdi, filed a law suit against the telecom vendor last week from the US, demanding that the company cease support for Iran's monitoring centres and also that it helps secure the release of Saharkhiz.

But in a statement released yesterday, Nokia Siemens Networks denied responsibility in the case and criticised Saharkhiz and his son for taking legal action against the firm rather than the Iranian government.

"We have no quarrel with Isa Saharkhiz and his son; indeed Nokia Siemens Networks condemns human rights violations around the world. But the Saharkhiz lawsuit is brought in the wrong place, against the wrong party, and on the wrong premise," the statement said.

"The Saharkhizes allege brutal treatment by the Government in Iran, but they have not sued that government. Instead, they are seeking to blame Nokia Siemens Networks for the acts of the Iranian authorities by filing a lawsuit in the U.S., a country that has absolutely no connection to the issues they are raising," the statement added.

Nokia Siemens Networks was widely criticised last year when it emerged that it had supplied Iran's two mobile operators, MCI and Irancell, with surveillance technology that was apparently used by the government to monitor and track dissidents during the political upheaval that followed the 2009 elections.

However, the vendor stressed that its work for MCI and Irancell incorporated "the same capability for Lawful Interception as those of virtually every nation" and added that this capability is provided by all major network suppliers.

Nokia Siemens Networks also denied media reports that it had provided deep packet inspection technology or any other "capability designed to conduct content-base surveillance of internet or other communications traffic to Iran".

Nokia Siemens Networks added that while it had provided a monitoring centre to allow Iranian authorities to intercept traffic in MCI's mobile network in 2008, it had since divested the monitoring centre business and, with the "exception of some technical contractual links", no longer has any involvement with it.

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