Saturday, August 27, 2011

Nokia and Siemens Helping Torture in Bahrain

Noel Brinkerhoff

Being known as a facilitator of secret police and torturers is not ideal branding for any company. But that is the reputation that Germany’s Siemens and Finland’s Nokia are developing, as a result of their partnership that’s provided spy technology to authoritarian regimes in the Middle East.

The latest sordid news comes out of Bahrain, where the government used voice- and data-recording technology sold by a Nokia Siemens Networks’ business (Trovicor) to gather incriminating text and voice messages of dissidents. According to Bloomberg, government interrogators not only used the software to track down activists, but also to show those being tortured the information that’s been gathered on them.

Trovicor’s equipment reportedly is used in at least 12 Middle Eastern and North African nations, and the company’s monitoring centers have been sold to Bahrain, Egypt, Syria and Yemen, reports Bloomberg.

It’s been previously reported that the government of Iran, too, has used a Trovicor monitoring center to go after political protesters and members of the local media. Journalist Isa Saharkhiz, a one-time reporter for the Islamic Republic News Agency, sued Nokia and Siemens in U.S. federal court claiming the European companies facilitated his capture and torture at the hands of Iranian agents.

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