Danish company helped Iran with surveillance program that identified journalist who was arrested and tortured

RanTek, a Danish company, is reportedly supplying Iran with censor/spyware technology, which was part of a larger effort that was used to identify a dissident journalist who was arrested and tortured.

Until he was arrested, he worked for Mehr, the official Iranian news agency. He received information from all over the country about protests and demonstrations, information too controversial to be used in the news agent's official work. Instead he published it through other channels, e.g. Facebook. However, after the elections in June 2009, when people took to the streets in protest against Ahmadinejad's election victory, it was clear to the Iranians that the Internet is in no way safe.

Nearly 4000 people were arrested solely on the basis of monitoring of their private internet traffic«, says Farahani.

Now it seems that the Danish company RanTek helps the Iranian regime with the monitoring of the Iranian population. The day before Christmas the Bloomberg news agency reported that the Danish IT company re-packages and sells surveillance equipment to Iran. Ironically, the equipment originally comes from the Israeli manufacturer Allot Communications, which means that the Israelis through a Danish intermediary have helped their mortal enemies.

Eksperter: Dansk firma hjælper med iransk overvågning (Danish)

Danish company helps Iran spy on citizens (English)

(Thanks, Henrik!)


  1. how do these coprocrats sleep at night? Hopefully, their sleep is very disturbed, but I’m increasingly led to believe that these bastards have no moral qualms at all…

  2. It’s a a stretch to say this tech helped Iran identify this particular journalist, but it definitely could have.

    1. In other news, Pepsi Co. bottled the water that censors drank, thereby helping them monitor private Internet traffic and jail nearly 4000 people.

      Also, I believe that there would have been no other way for the Iranian intelligence agencies to obtain monitoring software and that they, had they not bought this particular piece of software, would have said “eh, fuck it” and abandoned their efforts.

  3. Is that much different from shouts like “[insert name] company creates the tool that evil hackers use to break in our computers and therefore should be banned”? Should we blame the company that it creates some tool or Iran that it uses the tool to do bad stuff?

    1. One problem is: major companies often add features into their systems at the request of, and targeted to, major governments that want to use them for oppression. (Cisco in China, for example.) There simply isn’t any other possible market for a lot of these capabilities.
      We might not always blame the company that creates the tool, but sometimes, yes, we can.
      In this case, we might not blame the company that created the tool, but we certainly should blame the company that sold it to Iran. They did so knowing damn well what kind of thing it would be used for. That Iran are guilty doesn’t lessen RanTek’s guilt; it increases it.

  4. Looking at what exactly the system in question (Allot NetEnforcer) does – yes – it s a far stretch to assume that this in particular was used to identify an individual – but that doesnt change a thing about the hypocrisy and crime that lies in selling surveillance tech to oppressive regimes that we are oh-so-keen on attacking otherwise, surveillance tech that *can* be used to identify communication flows and hand them over to more precise study, using other software.

    As a side note, NetEnforcers tech sheet in particular lists being able to identify and ‘manage’ Tor sessions – among others of course.

  5. Adding an ironic twist to the deal and its grim consequences (thanks, Fefe): the software is originally made in Israel, as Bloomberg Buisness Week reports on Dec 23rd. Just the labels and the packages were removed: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-12-23/israel-didn-t-know-high-tech-gear-was-sent-to-iran-via-denmark.html

    Quote: “Israeli trade, customs and defense officials say their departments didn’t know that (…) NetEnforcer (…) had gone to a country whose leaders have called for the destruction of the Jewish state.”

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