The suit, according to Moawad & Herischi LLP (Chevy Chase, Maryland), the activists' lawyers, alleges that Isa Saharkhiz, a journalist and political activist, has suffered at the hands of the Iranian authorities because those authorities were able to listen to his telephone conversations using monitoring equipment sold to Iran by NSN. The monitoring happened after the disputed 2009 presidential election in Iran, the law firm states.
The lawsuit was filed in a U.S. Federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, against NSN and parent companies Nokia Oy (Espoo Finland) and Siemens AG (Munich, Germany).
Moawad & Herischi, working on behalf of the Saharkhiz family, have stated that Saharkhiz is suffering from injuries caused by torture and is being denied treatment for those injuries. The law suit calls on NSN to use its influence with the Iranian government to help secure Saharkhiz's release, the law firm said.
NSN does not deny it sold a monitoring center to Iran in 2008.
In a statement issued in June 2009, the company said that it had provided a lawful intercept capability for local voice calls in Iran. It said it had not provided any deep packet inspection, web censorship or Internet filtering capability to Iran.
NSN said that lawful intercept is specified in standards defined by both the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). The company claimed that it has operated in compliance with United Nations and European Union export control regulations and other applicable laws and regulations.
A blog posted by Nokia Siemens Networks said the company would not comment on the law suit until the company had studied the complaint along with co-defendants Nokia and Siemens.
"We will say that the misuse of communication technologies, intended for legitimate use, to infringe human rights is wrong. It is those who misuse technology who must be accountable for their actions. We condemn the abuse of technology to suppress political activity, and deplore any government, anywhere, that employs torture," the blog stated.