Iran strongly condemns US sanctions over Albania hacking

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TEHRAN – Iran sharply blasted a US decision to sanction its intelligence agency, which was blamed for a significant hack on NATO ally Albania.

Albania broke diplomatic ties with Iran on Wednesday, accusing it of being behind the July 15 hack, which attempted but failed to halt public services and access data and government communications systems.

In response, the US sanctioned Iran’s intelligence ministry and its minister, Esmail Khatib, on Friday, claiming the attack “disregards norms of responsible peacetime state behavior in cyberspace.”

“The ministry of foreign affairs strongly condemns the action of the US treasury department in repeatedly punishing the Islamic republic’s ministry of intelligence,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said on Saturday.

“America’s instant support for the Albanian government’s baseless accusation… “This demonstrates that the designer of this scenario is the American government, not the latter,” he added in a statement.

Kanani accused the US of “full assistance to a terrorist sect,” alluding to the opposition People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK), members of which are sponsored by Albania.

Albania decided in 2013 to accept MEK members from Iraq at the request of the US and the UN, with thousands settling in the Balkan country over the years.

“This criminal group continues to function as one of America’s tools in executing terrorist activities and cyberattacks” against Iran, according to the statement.

The MEK backed Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in the 1979 revolution that deposed the Shah, but soon parted out with the new Islamic authorities and launched an anti-regime campaign.

In the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq conflict, the MEK sided with Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

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