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Danish company implicated in banned Israel-Iran trade
An Israeli communications company stands accused of illegally trading with Israel’s sworn enemy, Iran, using a Danish distributor as its middleman.
For years, the Israeli company Allott Communications, Ltd. sold NetEnforcer, a “deep packet inspection” software program to Danish IT company, RanTek A/S, in Randers. RanTek then removed the labels and packaging, repackaged it, and resold it to a customer in Iran, all with the foreknowledge of the Israeli company, reports the news agency Bloomberg.
Israeli law prohibits Israeli companies from trading with Iran, which is seen as its enemy. Iranian leaders have previously called for the annihilation of Israel.
But in addition to breaking Israel’s trade embargo, Allot Communications stands accused of selling the Iranians software that enables the user to intercept emails and text messages, pinpoint the locations of mobile phones, and generally spy on internet and mobile phone users.
Human rights organisations claim that the governments of Iran, Bahrain, Syria and Tunisia have used such internet surveillance software – also known as spyware – to track, locate and convict democratic political protestors.
“Stopping this trade is a shared responsibility across government and business,” Meg Roggensack, a senior advisor to Human Rights First, told Bloomberg. “It is extremely urgent. This is playing out in real time with real consequences for real people.”
Such software can also be used to optimize internet traffic and drive customers to a company's website – which is what Allot Communications’ CEO Rami Hadar said NetEnforcer is intended for.
He told Bloomberg he had no knowledge that RanTek was repackaging and reselling NetEnforcer to an Iranian client. Bloomberg journalist Ben Elgin claims, however, that three former Allot Communications employees confirmed that it was common knowledge among employees at the Israeli company that the spyware was being resold to Iran.
Hadar told the Jerusalem Post that the Bloomberg story was full “of critical inaccuracies” and that his company had no way of knowing where its distributors resold its products.
RanTek’s CEO, Morten Kolind, also denied that his company had changed the packaging on NetEnforcer for its Iranian customer, contradicting Bloomberg's report.
“We always open the boxes and check that the power cables are correct and that all the right manuals are there, etc., plus we put the receipt in the box. But we never change the packaging,” Kolind told TV2 news in a written statement.
He added that sales to the Iranian customer were approved by the Danish commerce department Erhvervs- og Byggestyrelsen, as well as PET, Denmark’s domestic security agency.
Like Hadar, Kolind underscored that NetEnforcer is intended to direct internet traffic to the user’s website, not to intercept the emails and text messages of citizens.
The Israeli Defence Ministry has now begun its own investigation into Allott Communications' business dealings, in reaction to the allegations from Bloomberg, reports the Jerusalem Post.