Iranian state TV was subjected to a rare disruption by hackers on Thursday in a strike attributed to opposition group the People’s Mojahedin Organization [MEK]. For about 10 seconds, broadcasts on the IRIB’s Channel 1 and Quran Channel were interrupted and replaced with pictures of the MEK’s co-leaders Massoud and Maryam Rajavi.
A crossed-out image of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei also appeared briefly onscreen together with the slogans “Peace be upon Rajavi” and “Death to Khamenei”. A line from a speech by Massoud Rajavi, who has been missing, presumed dead, since 2003, played over the images: “Today, we still honor the time we declared death to the reactionary. We stood by it.”
The IRIB itself confirmed the hack, with the state broadcaster’s technical deputy saying his colleagues were investigating the case. It appeared, he said, that opponents of the Islamic Republic had exploited “backdoors we have in the system” in what would have been a complex operation.
The MEK is one of the oldest militant organizations opposed to the Islamic Republic, many of whose members have since based themselves in Iraq. Commenting to AP on the incident on Thursday, spokesperson Shahin Ghobadi appeared to distance the group’s leadership from the hack: “Like you, we are aware of this now. It appears to have been carried out by MKO supporters and resistance units.”