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February 13, 2023

Hacktivists hijack Iranian president’s Revolution Day broadcast

The protest video called for citizens of Iran to engage in a nationwide protest against banks to help bring down the government.

By Claudia Glover

A televised speech by Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi on state TV this weekend was interrupted by hacktivists. The Edelat-e Ali group hijacked the broadcast to call for the downfall of the government and to urge people to take part in nationwide protests. It is the latest hacktivist intervention in the civil unrest which has gripped Iran in recent months.

Iranian hacktivists interrupt Iranian state TV broadcast on Revolution day. (Photo by Eugenio Marongiu/Shutterstock)

Edelat-e Ali struck during President Raisi’s Revolution Day speech on Saturday. The event marks the anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979, and is marked with state-organised parades and speeches and, this year, an amnesty of a large number of political prisoners, including jailed dissident Farhad Meysami, who had been in jail since 2018, as well as Iranian-French academic Fariba Adelkhah.

Iranian state TV hacked by Edelat-e Ali hacking gang

President Raisi used the speech to call on what he described as the country’s “deceived youth” to repent and be pardoned by their supreme leader, referring to protests that sprung up all over the country following the death of Mahsa Amini, who died while in police custody. According to Reuters, 528 protesters have died in the unrest, including 71 minors, while 19,763 protesters are believed to have been arrested. 

The speech, however, was interrupted by a hacktivism broadcast calling for the death of Ali Hosseini Khamenei, the current supreme leader of Iran. The gang also calls for a nationwide protest against Iranian banks, asking citizens to withdraw all of their money in defiance of the regime.

Illicit hacktivism broadcast. (Video by HackRead)

The gang claimed responsibility for the hack on its Telegram channel, saying: “We the Edalat-e Ali group hacked the Islamic Republic of Iran’s TV and radio transmission,” the hackers wrote. “First of all, the Edalat-e Ali group offers its condolences to the entire freedom-loving nation on the decade of dawn and the impure arrival of Khomeini the executioner to Iran.”

Hacktivism has become a feature of the protests in Iran

The gang is known for politically motivated cyber protests in Iran. It is responsible for leaking internal documents showing that two Iranian security officers were being investigated for the alleged rape of two young women after they were detained during the protests last year. 

The hacking group also sent files from CCTV footage showing the mistreatment of inmates from inside an Iranian prison, as well as files and classified prison documents, to the Iranian news site Iran International. The documents received by Iran International include a list of hundreds of prisoners who were arrested during previous protests, held in November 2019, and their charges.

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The overall social action in Iran has triggered numerous cyber protests. The Iranian arm of the online hacking group Anonymous, called OpIran, hacked into a database of Iran’s parliament and its supreme audit court, releasing phone numbers and other data of Iranian lawmakers.

An offshore petrochemical plant was also allegedly hacked during the protests. An anonymous member tweeted that 971MB of data had been stolen. The websites of the Central Bank of Iran, Meli bank and Sepah bank were also taken down.

Read more: Pro-Russia hacktivists offer cash for DDoS attacks

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