Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance will submit a request in
terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act for access to copies of
records relating to cell operator MTN's business activities in Iran.
Party MP David Maynier said on Wednesday allegations which
emerged in a lawsuit filed in the United States District Court of Columbia in
Washington DC suggest that MTN may have undertaken to provide access to its devices,
by agreeing to facilitate the installation of "eavesdropping
technology" on its devices in Iran.
"I am concerned that in possibly facilitating the
surveillance of the political opposition, the MTN Group [JSE:MTN] may directly
or indirectly be responsible for the violation of human rights in Iran,"
"If the MTN Group (Ltd) has nothing to hide, the
company should have no problem handing over copies of the records relating to
its business dealings in Iran."
Maynier said he would submit an application in terms of the
Promotion of Access to Information Act for copies of all records in the
possession of the MTN Group board relating to possible human rights violations
in Iran, and copies of all records in the group social and ethics committee relating
According to court papers quoted by Maynier, MTN
"offered the advantage" to Iranian state-owned defence company Sairan
to provide access by the Iranian ministry of defence to MTN's devices, once the
company was running a private cellular network in Iran.
The access would facilitate installation of eavesdropping
technology on MTN devices.
MTN claims that it "seeks to ensure that our corporate
values of respect for human rights are reflected in the way we do
The SA Human Rights Commission said on Tuesday that it had
received a request to investigate MTN for human rights violations in Iran.
MTN has been accused of facilitating the surveillance of
Iranian opposition activists by allowing phones to be bugged.
Rival cellphone company Turkcell has also accused MTN of
using bribery to obtain an operating licence in Iran.