Nokia Siemens Sued by Iranian Activist for Aiding Government Spying

Iran Nokia

Iran’s Green Movement might want to consider switching to BlackBerry for its call-to-action tweets.

Isa Saharkhiz, an Iranian activist, filed suit before a U.S. court Monday against Nokia Siemens, alleging the telco supplied the Iranian government with the technology to monitor dissidents. Saharkhiz accuses Nokia of aiding human rights violations, and says the cell phone surveillance led to her arrest following the disputed 2009 presidential election.

The suit demands that Nokia Siemens ceases “all unlawful support of intercepting centers of the Iranian government,” and seeks “relief that would prevent defendants from harming others in the future in other similarly situated countries like Iran.”

Saharkhiz’s claims echo Nobel Peace prizewinner Shirin Ebadi, who had accused the mobile company of sending “the Iranian state software and technology that it can use to monitor telephone calls and text messages.”

Nokia Siemens has denied its system in Iran is capable of monitoring mobile communications. “We, as a company, in no way approve of the misuse of telecommunication equipment,” a Nokia Siemens Network spokeswoman told AFP recently. “We believe that communication and mobile phone technologies play a significant role in the development of societies and the advancement of democracy.”

This dispute between a well-recognized telecom and a sovereign government mirrors the issues plaguing BlackBerry provider Research In Motion (RIM), though with a slight twist. While Nokia Siemens is accused of aiding the Iranian government, Canada-based firm RIM has faced mounting criticism from India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates for not providing similar monitoring technology.AC