Western companies help Bahrain spy on democracy activists

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By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
While Western governments preach to the world about the benefits of democracy, Western companies supply some of the most detestable dictatorial regimes with surveillance technologies for use against pro-democracy activists. One example in point is the repressive government of Bahrain, which, according to Amnesty International, is responsible for some of the most extensive human rights violations anywhere in the Middle East. Bahrain is the kind of place where even medical professionals who treat people wounded by police or soldiers in demonstrations are charged with “incitement”. Despite the fervor of the pro-democracy movement that has risen as part of the Arab Spring, the oil-rich royal clique that rules the nation has managed a series of debilitating hits against the reformists. The success of the crackdown is largely due the use of sophisticated telecommunications surveillance systems that allow Bahraini authorities to spy on cell phones and social networking platforms used by members of the pro-democracy opposition. Who supplied the Bahraini dictators with this equipment? Step forward German engineering conglomerate Siemens AG, and Finnish multinational Nokia. An article published this week in Bloomberg’s Markets magazine, fingers the German company as the primary supplier of telecommunications surveillance systems to the Bahraini royals. The latter rely on contracts with Nokia’s Trovicor GmbH subsidiary to maintain the sophisticated software and hardware. Bloomberg says it was notified of the Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) partnership by two unnamed insiders, “whose positions at the companies gave them direct knowledge of the installations and the sale and maintenance contracts”. Read more of this post

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Western companies help Tehran spy on protestors

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By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Numerous celebratory articles have appeared recently in several blogs that praise Western Internet firms for “help[ing] out the pro-democracy movement inside [Iran]”. These articles overlook Tehran’s extremely powerful Internet and telephone spying capabilities, which experts describe as “one of the world’s most sophisticated mechanisms”. Moreover, as intelNews reported last April, the Iranian government acquired these mechanisms with the help of some of Europe’s leading telecommunications hardware and software manufacturers, who were all too happy to supply Tehran with advanced means to spy on its own people. Read more of this post

Western companies sold phone spy equipment to Iran

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
For about a year now, political dissidents in Iran have suspected that the Iranian government’s ability to spy on private communications has intensified, covering for the first time cell phone and instant messaging exchanges. Last Monday it emerged that two European telecommunications hardware manufacturers are actually behind the Iranian government’s increased surveillance capabilities. The Wall Street Journal reports that Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) sold Iran Telecom –Iran’s government-owned telecommunications provider– a sophisticated surveillance system, in the summer of 2008. NSN is an engineering partnership between Finland’s Nokia Corporation and German hardware manufacturer Siemens AG, Europe’s largest engineering firm. Read more of this post