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Iran Nobel winner seeks Nokia Siemens sanctions

OSLO (Reuters) - Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi called on the West to impose sanctions on mobile systems maker Nokia Siemens Networks for providing technology that she says helped Tehran repress political opponents.

Western powers are discussing a fourth round of United Nations sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, which Tehran maintains is peaceful but the West fears is aimed at building atomic weapons.

The Iranian human rights lawyer, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, is against economic sanctions on Iran that she says would hurt the Iranian people.

“Last month the U.S. government imposed a heavy fine on a Swiss bank that was trading with Iran and thereby breaking the sanctions,” Ebadi said, referring to a $536 million fine on Credit Suisse Group AG.

“My question to America is this: why don’t you impose the same kind of heavy punishment on corporations that provide Iran with equipment that can be used to suppress the people?

“I am talking about Siemens and Nokia because they provided Iran with equipment with which it can monitor the Iranian nation,” Ebadi told Reuters in an interview in Oslo, where she is attending a conference on human rights.

“That would be a lesson to other corporations not to dare sell to the Iranian government such equipment that can be used to suppress the people,” said Ebadi, who won the Peace Prize for her work for women’s and children’s rights in Iran.

Nokia Siemens Networks, a joint venture between Germany’s Siemens and Finland’s Nokia, said it provided to Iran mobile networks with an in-built capability for law enforcement agencies to listen in on conversations, in line with international standards.

“That’s a standard feature on all mobile networks in the world,” said Ben Roome, NSN spokesman. “It’s the industry standard at the behest of the U.S. and European governments.”

In 2008, NSN also delivered to Iranian authorities a monitoring center for mobile phone traffic, but has since exited from this segment of its business in Iran.

“We sold that business a year ago. We don’t support it in Iran and we don’t provide it. We condemn any misuse of it that may have been there,” said Roome.

Editing by Mark Trevelyan