ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) – An Iranian journalist claims Nokia and Siemens provided the Iranian government with “sophisticated devices for monitoring, eavesdropping, filtering, and tracking mobile phones,” which helped the “oppressive” government throw him prison and torture him for more than a year.
In his federal complaint, Isa Saharkhiz says he has been in prison, and tortured, since June 20, 2009. He and his son, Mehdi, seek damages for torture, assault, negligence and violations of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and Iran sanctions.
Saharkhiz says he worked as a reporter for the government-controlled Islamic Republic News Agency before becoming the founding member of the “outspoken” Society for the Defense of Freedom of the Press. The Society fought the “relentless censorship” of the Iranian regime, until the government barred him from working for it for a year after a “sham trial” in 2003.
Saharkhiz says he continued to promote democratic reforms through online columns. In 2009 he criticized the Grand Ayatollah for his role in that year’s Iranian presidential election, which was “widely criticized internationally as a rigged election.”
The government’s efforts to arrest him forced him into hiding, but its “capability of monitoring all of his phone conversations and identifying his location largely due to the sophisticated monitoring equipments sold to them and serviced by defendants” enabled it to capture him and brutally beat him, he says.
Without Nokia and Siemens’ tracking devices and networks, Saharkhiz says, the government could not have caught him, broken his ribs, put him in solitary confinement for 80 days, or housed him with violent inmates, without medical treatment, and incommunicado from his family.
He says he never was tried and has been held “in a constant state of pain” since his June 2009 arrest.
“In effect, defendants are directly involved in the unlawful censoring and monitoring of journalists, activists, and citizens in Iran by supplying the government of Iran with the technology needed to perform interceptions, monitoring, controls, content filtering, deep packet filtering, and network scanning,” the Saharkhizes say.
Saharkhiz’s son says he suffers from nightmares and emotional breakdowns while spending hours daily in support of his father’s defense.
The complaint says that Isa Saharkhiz’s daughter was “beaten by security forces during a search of their house.”
The father and son seek punitive damages for violations of international law, battery, assault, false imprisonment, infliction of emotional distress, negligence, and for manufacturing and exporting “Intelligence Solution to Iran in violation of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010.”
They are represented by Edward Moawad with Moawad Herischi of Chevy Chase, Md.