Nokia Siemens Networks has claimed that because it is a corporation it was not responsible for "aiding and abetting" the torture and arrest of an Iranian journalist in his home country.
NSN was defending a human rights suit brought against it in the US state of Virginia by an Iranian journalist, Isa Saharkhiz and his son Mehdi over its role in supplying equipment which led to the arrest of Saharkhiz in 2009.
In court documents filed [PDF] filed late September, NSN said that the plaintiffs had failed to state a claim under the Torture Victims Protections Act (TVPA).
"First, because the TVPA authorises suits only against "individuals," courts repeatedly have held that "the TVPA does not apply to corporations," NSN's lawyers argued.
Responding to Saharkhiz's allegation that NSN "wilfully provided" the Iranian government spying technology that led to his arrest, NSN's lawyers said Saharkhiz failed to link Nokia US - the sued entity - to the transactions he claimed led to his arrest.
NSN issued a public statement in August arguing that the suit should be directed at "those who misuse technology", not the seller.
Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) international affairs director Eddan Katz has called on NSN to drop its "cynical claims that corporations should never be held accountable for their role in human rights violations."
Isa Saharkhiz, who had been in hiding in a small Iranian town after Iran's highly-charged 2009 elections, was arrested after Iranian authorities tracked him down via his mobile phone, according to Katz.
Saharkhiz has allegedly been tortured by Iranian authorities since his arrest.
Lawyers acting for Saharkhiz wanted Nokia Siemens Networks to cease the "unlawful support of intercepting centres of the Iranian government".
EFF has urged its members to support digital rights fighter group Access in its "No to Nokia" campaign.
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