Access, a global Internet freedom advocacy group, has launched a “No To Nokia” petition as part of a campaign supporting Iranian journalist Issa Saharkiz’s lawsuit against Nokia Siemens. The Saharkiz lawsuit claims that Nokia Siemen’s sales of mobile tracking technology to Iran was instrumental in allowing the Iranian government to locate the journalist when he went into hiding, and led to his subsequent “inhuman and degrading treatment” in prison. Access’ petition demands that Nokia and the countries of the E.U. and U.S. “completely end all sales, support, and service of tracking and surveillance technology to governments with a record of human rights abuses. “
The Saharkiz case is being pursued through the U.S. court system using that country’s Alien Torts Act, a statute from 1789 that lets American courts hear human rights cases brought by foreign citizens for conduct outside the United States. It’s not the first time this 18th-century law has been used to address 21st-century press freedom issues. The mother of Shi Tao, the Chinese journalist arrested after information taken from his Yahoo! email account was passed onto the Chinese authorites, sued the American search engine under the same law in 2007. Yahoo! eventually settled that case.
Saharkiz is currently serving a three year sentence for “insulting the Supreme Leader” and “propagating against the regime”. In May, Saharkhiz was transferred to a prison in Rajaee Shahr, near Karaj, according to the reformist news website Kalame, where he reportedly suffered a heart attack. CPJ has been unable to determine his current state of health.