Lobby group calls for MTN sanctions

United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) has again accused MTN of working in tandem with the Iranian regime to provide it with the data and assistance for human rights abuses, and called on US President, Barack Obama to enforce sanctions against the SA mobile operator.

In a speech at the US Holocaust Museum on Monday, President Obama announced fresh sanctions against Iran, Syria and any other body who aids in the use technology to violate human rights abuses.

The Turkish operator, Turkcell has launched a $4.2 billion lawsuit in a US court accusing MTN of bribing its way to an Iranian mobile operating licence, and alleging human rights abuses.

UANI CEO, Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, said in a statement: “We applaud President Obama for announcing these new sanctions. The Iranian regime has a long record of misusing cellular and internet technology to spy on, track, and eventually torture innocent Iranians.

“Even worse, companies such as South Africa’s MTN work in tandem with the regime, and provide it with the data, tools, and assistance for these human rights abuses. We call on the Obama Administration to fully enforce these sanctions, including against the companies that provide and help the regime with this technology.”

UANI highlighted snippets from a White House Fact Sheet, which stipulated that the sanctions apply to those who have “sold, leased, or otherwise provided, directly or indirectly, goods, services, or technology to Iran or Syria likely to be used to facilitate computer or network disruption, monitoring or tracking that could assist in or enable serious human rights abuses by or on behalf of the Government of Iran or the Government of Syria.”

“This clearly covers companies like MTN, which has shut off text messaging at the behest of the regime and ordered the shutdown of Skype,” Wallace said.

UANI is a not-for-profit, non-partisan, advocacy group that seeks to prevent Iran from fulfilling its ambition to obtain nuclear weapons.

It launched its “Tech & Telecom Campaign” in 2011 to highlight the practices of international firms that provide the Iranian regime with sensitive technology and telecommunications equipment that are used to restrict and monitor internet and cellphone services. The lobby group stressed that the regime uses this technology to facilitate its suppression of the citizens of Iran.

Earlier this month, group president and CEO of MTN Group, Sifiso Dabengwa accused Turkcell of making “sensationalist allegations” against the group in obtaining a licence in Iran, and dismissed the charges of human rights abuses as “both false and offensive”.

The company head said that MTN did not cause Turkcell to lose “its” licence in Iran, as Turkcell has claimed.

The group continues to comply with US sanctions on Iran.

At 11h00, MTN’s shares were trading 1,12% higher, up R1.50 to R136.00.

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