Albania moves to break off relations in response to an alleged cyberattack by Tehran, the nation’s PM says
Albania has severed diplomatic ties with Iran over an alleged cyberattack on the nation’s digital infrastructure, ordering all of Tehran’s diplomatic staff to leave within 24 hours, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said on Wednesday.
In a video statement, Rama noted that “this extreme response is fully proportional to the gravity and risk of the cyberattack” which recently threatened public services and stirred chaos and insecurity in the Balkan country.
The prime minister went on to say that the attack, which took place in mid-July, “failed its purpose,” with the damage being minimal. However, in his view, Tirana’s law enforcement agencies managed to “establish without the shadow of a doubt” the culprit behind the hacking attempt.
“The in-depth investigation provided us with indisputable evidence that the cyberattack against our country was orchestrated and sponsored by the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Rama stated, adding that it was a concerted effort of four groups, with one of them having apparently mounted similar attacks on Israel, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, Kuwait, and Cyprus.
The United States also weighed in, with National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson saying that Washington “strongly condemns Iran’s cyberattack” and supports Tirana in its efforts to hold Tehran accountable.
She also noted that US cyber experts were involved in the investigation of the hacking and concluded that it was Iran that “conducted this reckless and irresponsible cyberattack.”
Tensions between Albania and Iran have been running high for some time. In 2018, Tirana, citing US officials, accused Tehran of plotting “terrorist attacks” in the Balkan country, expelling two Iranian diplomats from the country, including the ambassador. At the time, Iran denounced the decision, saying it was based on “fabricated intelligence” and taken under pressure from Washington.
For years, Albania has also been a home for the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MEK), a group of Iranian dissidents which Tehran has accused of having killed more than 12,000 Iranian civilians and authorities since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
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