Ericsson in Syria: statement from Swedish PEN


Sweden, 1 December 2011

Over the last few weeks, the revelation that the telecom company Ericsson has been delivering advanced positioning equipment to the Syrian government has been the focus of a heated debate in Sweden. There can be no doubt whatsoever that this equipment is being used to position, eavesdrop on and harass dissidents. Ericsson has denied all responsibility for the uses to which their technology is being used.

During the on going conference “Words in captivity”, concerning the work of PEN, the ICORN system and freedom of speech in general, PEN International President John Ralston Saul gave a speech during which he questioned the relationship between telecoms like Ericsson and regimes with no respect for human rights. Saul said:

“Companies that supply digital technologies have the obligation to choose carefully the countries with which they do business. When governments demonstrate contempt for the rights of their citizens, as we see in Syria, it is disingenuous for a company to pretend it does not know about or is not responsible for the uses to which their technology will be put. What is happening in Syria represents a clear case, which obligates companies like Ericsson to take a stand.”

The conference has been organised by The Swedish Art Council and The Swedish Academy with the participation of Swedish PEN.

For more information please contact:
Ola Larsmo, President of Swedish PEN, +46 (0)708-26 85 57, ola.larsmo@svenskapen.se
Elnaz Baghlanian, +46 (0)702-72 57 33, elnaz.baghlanian@svenskapen.se