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Nokia Siemens Sued For Providing Monitoring Equipment To Iran 275

Just over a year ago, we found out that Nokia Siemens provided internet monitoring equipment to Iran. Now, reader Tootech sends in news that the company is being sued by an Iranian journalist who was captured with the help of that equipment. From El Reg: "Isa Saharkhiz went into hiding following Iran's 2009 presidential elections, after publishing an article branding the Grand Ayatollah as a hypocrite who was primarily responsible for vote tallies widely regarded as being fraudulent. According to a complaint filed in federal court in Virginia, officials with the Ministry of Intelligence and Security in Iran tracked him down with the help of cellphone-monitoring devices and other eavesdropping gear provided by Nokia Siemens. 'Defendants knowingly and willingly delivered very capable and sophisticated equipment for unlawful intercepting, monitoring, and filtering of electronic communications ("Intelligence Solutions") to Iranian officials,' the complaint alleged. ... According to the document, Saharkhiz has been severely tortured since his arrest. He was held in solitary confinement for more than 80 days, and his ribs were broken in a struggle during his arrest. The complaint said it may be amended to add as many as 1,500 other political prisoners who are being held under similar circumstances. Additional defendants may also be added."
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Nokia Siemens Sued For Providing Monitoring Equipment To Iran

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  • Re:Forum shopping? (Score:3, Informative)

    by shentino ( 1139071 ) <> on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:22AM (#33352476)

    It doesn't.

    Among other things, Iran has sovereign immunity.

    Nokia may, however, be liable under other laws here in the US for aiding and abetting a terrorist regime. I'm pretty sure that Iran is on some sort of federal blacklist.

  • Re:Forum shopping? (Score:4, Informative)

    by jrumney ( 197329 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:26AM (#33352492)
    s/Swedish/Finnish/ - I was thinking of a different network equipment provider there.
  • Re:Forum shopping? (Score:5, Informative)

    by cappp ( 1822388 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:47AM (#33352606)
    It's called the Alien Tort Statute [] and states that []

    The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.

    . A few countries establish their own rights to hear international claims, known as universal jurisdiction [] - thats claimed by the UK, France, Canada, and Australia for instance. I'm sure there's some nuance in the difference between Universal Jurisdiction and that created under the Alien Tort Statute that I don't know, but at it's essentially the same thing. The cases heard tend to relate to human rights issues. The Supreme Court in Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain [] reiterated their commitment to a test that considers international norms that are "specific, universal, and obligatory" but that's lead to it's own bundle of questions. []

    Short answer, yup they can.

  • Re:Law? (Score:5, Informative)

    by maroberts ( 15852 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:49AM (#33352616) Homepage Journal

    unlawful where exactly? Iran or the US?

    I agree that this a question of where it is unlawful and may be a case of forum shopping, however certain countries have sanctions on what can be exported to other countries, a classic example being the USA restricting what can be exported to Cuba. A breach of this can be an offence if the country from where the equipment was sourced has such sanctions in place, or the corporate headquarters is in such a country.

  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @08:20AM (#33353426)
    Then what do you think of the USA, who added "male" in the 14th Amendment (the first place it showed up) and an attempt to remove that word with the ERA was seen as hippie extremism? They may not be cattle, but they are, by Constitutional definition, not EQUALS. And when the opportunity came to rectify that, it was ignored. Many other countries place them on explicitly equal footing, as opposed to the USA that explicitly divides the sexes.
  • Re:Law? (Score:5, Informative)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @08:48AM (#33353632) Journal

    .unlawful where exactly?

    In the country where Siemens is doing business.

    I know that confuses things, but that's how it works. You want to do business here? Well, you've got to obey our laws. And our laws mean for Iran not have this technology. If you're going to be in the business of arming both sides in a global conflict, you've got to be prepared for some blowback.

    Siemens has been doing this kind of stuff for a long while. They don't care who gets the tech as long as the money's green. That doesn't make them different from any other military contractor, except if you're going to make money providing strategic technologies to any and all comers, you've got to be ready to piss off their enemies.

    I'm kind of happy when these transnationals learn that there might still be a few limits left. Not many mind you, but some.

  • Re:Law? (Score:3, Informative)

    by bhartman34 ( 886109 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @09:12AM (#33353876)

    True, but the quoted text states that it was the electronic monitoring that was unlawful, not the act of exporting the equipment needed to do so.

    Actually, the quoted text states that it was the delivery of the equipment that was unlawful:

    Defendants knowingly and willingly delivered very capable and sophisticated equipment for unlawful intercepting, monitoring, and filtering of electronic communications ("Intelligence Solutions") to Iranian officials,' the complaint alleged.

    It's the Iranians that are accused of the "unlawful intercepting, monitoring, and filtering of electronic communications".

  • Re:Law? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nadaka ( 224565 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @09:23AM (#33353998)

    1: Again, it was our grandparents and great grandparents generation that did that.

    2: Dropping nukes on Japan was the more moral option for ending that war. Our other option was to firebomb every city and mount an invasion that would have killed tens of millions of Japanese instead of tens of thousands.

  • Re:Law? (Score:3, Informative)

    by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @09:27AM (#33354068)
    No, but you can't say it with any kind of moral authority if you keep robbing banks over and over again. Iran isn't the only example.

    Those are excellent examples you list there, of course. The continual placement of US-injected dictators all around the world is sure an issue, especially where US troops are stationed to protect their puppets. I assume you mean governments throughout the Balkans, eastern Europe, South Korea, Japan, etc, since those are the places where the US military continues to prevent the locals, who quake at the murderous US military presence, from electing who they like. Right? Or in Iraq, where we definitely have Our Guy in place, right?
  • by Monchanger ( 637670 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @10:34AM (#33354996) Journal

    Torture in the modern middle east generally runs the gamut from severe beatings to destruction of limbs, other organs, or paralysis. For more interesting techniques with which humans have mistreated each other, see this list [].

    'Not' would be methods the US is known to have used recently, such as waterboarding and sleep deprivation. These can certainly be defined under the same word 'torture', but (when done properly) leave no physical damage.

    That's a major difference even if you still reject both as unacceptably cruel.

  • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @11:01AM (#33355444)
    That's a toughy, sort of like what exactly is pornography. Unfortunately, you can't say that severe torture is anything particular, but you can say that somebody that's fallen completely apart as a result was severely tortured. Which is why the Bush administration's view that they weren't torturing people was so asinine. The person committing the atrocity doesn't get to make that call, it has to be done on an impartial basis and I've yet to hear anybody that's been treated in that fashion not describe it as torture or at least serious abuse. If memory serves even former Bush administration insider Richard Armitage was on record very clearly as stating that he was water boarded and that he does consider it to be torture.

Why won't sharks eat lawyers? Professional courtesy.