August 18, 2010
about the lawsuit against Nokia Siemens Networks by a prominent jailed Iranian journalist, Isa Saharkhiz, who implicated Nokia Siemens in his arrest last year. He accuses them of delivering surveillance equipment to Iran that allowed authorities to trace his whereabouts through his cell phone.
“Persian Letters” spoke to Edward Moawad, an attorney at the Maryland-based Moawad & Herischi law firm, who is representing Saharkhiz and his son, blogger Mehdi Saharkhiz.
RFE/RL: What are you trying to achieve by taking Nokia Siemens to court?
Edward Moawad: Nokia’s actions — what they’ve done so far — really run counter to international law and international human rights laws and is pretty much in violation of United States law. Injuries to the main plaintiff here, Isa Saharkhiz, and to Mehdi and multiple others were inflicted as a result of the actions of Nokia Siemens network. And there is no other venue or any other place that we could bring them to justice except here in the United States.
RFE/RL: Is this a symbolic action against Nokia Siemens or are you really hopeful that you will achieve some of the demands you’ve listed in your complaint?
Moawad: We are hoping to win this. We’re not just asking only for damages that happened to the plaintiffs, we’re asking Nokia Siemens to help in assisting the release of prisoners — primarily Isa Saharkhiz — and also we would like them to stop cooperation with the Iranian government with regards to spying and surveillance. We’re also asking that they stop giving governments around the world who are known for violations of human rights this sort of technology so inflictions of these similar acts will not happen to these people, as well.
RFE/RL: What do you say to those who argue, including some Nokia Siemens representatives, that the same mobile technology that can be used for repression was used by Iranian activists? For example, many activists their cellphones to shoot scenes of police violence that were later posted on YouTube and watched by many around the world.
Moawad: We applaud the effort of telecommunication companies helping people in the Third World and people around the world reach other and reach the outside world. But we people of the world and people of the United States condemn acts that help repressive governments arrest and stifle dissent, torture journalists, and torture activists unjustifiably. I think it’s one thing to provide good technology but another to provide bad part of the technology.
RFE/RL: What kind of documents or proof are you going to present in court?
Moawad: We can’t really comment right now about what documents and things we have because we don’t want to prejudice both defendants and also not harm our plaintiffs who are our clients. As the case progresses, a lot of these documents will become public, and I think people around the world will know the extent of the violations that Nokia Siemens have committed.
RFE/RL: You’ve filed a lawsuit against Nokia Siemens on behalf of Saharzkhiz. Nokia has said that it is studying the case. What’s next?
Moawad: Once we file, we will serve all the defandants with their complaint. Then they’d have a certain set time to answer depending on the time they were served and then the procedural fight would start.
– Golnaz Esfandiari