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Iranian dissidents took credit on Thursday for the reported hacking of thousands of surveillance cameras around Tehran and dozens of government websites, as rebels ramp up their efforts against the regime amid massive anti-government protests.
The Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) claimed it had taken down 5,000 cameras around the capital and hit 150 municipality websites as part of a sweeping cyberattack to coincide with the anniversary of the death of Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
The Associated Press reported that Iran state media acknowledged the disruption to cameras — including around Khomenei’s mausoleum – and communication systems used by the city.
Images of the websites show MEK leaders above an image of current Ayatollah Ali Khamenei defaced with a red “X” and calling for an uprising to overthrow the government. Dissidents said the cameras hacked include those used to monitor and record license plates of vehicles passing through their sights.
MEK officials said the chaos was the result of their resistance united, a network of activists within Iran who deface icons, mobilize protests and cause havoc to the regime, and have recently pulled off a series of disruptions since the beginning of the year..
In January, they set fire to a statue of late Quds General Qassem Soleimani and disrupted radio stations. Activists have also hit official government websites before, and broadcast anti-government chants on radio stations and in squares. Officials also claimed on Thursday to have sent out text messages with slogans like “Down with Khamenei” via official government channels. More recently, activist groups released details about alleged abuses at state-run prisons, as well as information about staff and prison guards.
“Targeting 150 Tehran Municipality websites and taking down more than 5,000 security cameras and hundreds of their servers, used to suppress the uprisings, is the fourth of its kind in the string offensive measures that the Resistance Units affiliated with the principal Iranian opposition, the Mujahedin-e Khalq inside Iran, have undertaken since late January to shatter the wall of censorship, propaganda, fear, and intimidation by the ruling theocracy, encouraging and emboldening the Iranian people to defy and resist the mullahs’ regime,” Ali Safavi, a member of the Foreign Affairs of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), of which the MEK is a member organization, told Fox News Digital.
“The actions today also attest to the MEK’s increasing effectiveness and prowess and its ability to effect change inside Iran,” he said.
The hacks comes amid ongoing anti-regime protests in Iran, triggered by price hikes on food and other vital goods, as well as a building collapse in Abadan that killed at least 34 people.
Videos posted online have showed scores of protesters chanting antigovernment slogans in the street — scenes that have become a regular occurrence in a country where there are signs of significant dissatisfaction with the way the authoritarian government has handled COVID-19 and the economy.
Resistance groups have sensed a revolutionary moment in the protests, with Rajavi tweeting last week that “revolution is on its way” and calling Abadan a “manifestation of the 43-year-rule of the clerical regime, which has brought Iranian people nothing but crime, corruption and theft.”
The Trump administration left the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and imposed sweeping sanctions on the regime, which dealt a massive blow to the Iranian economy. The Biden administration is currently engaged in talks to re-enter the deal, which would likely be accompanied by sanctions relief for Tehran. However, talks have stalled as negotiators have so far struggled to come to an agreement.
Ned Price, the State Department spokesman was asked Monday about the ongoing protests and told reporters that the U.S. stands by the protesters just as it had during last year’s protests over water shortages.
“We sent a very clear message to the Iranian people that remains true today. It was a message of the fact that we stand with you, we stand with the Iranian people who are trying to make their voices heard, and that we call on the Iranian Government to respect the right of the Iranian people to peaceful protest, and not to repress what are their fundamental demands.”
Fox News’ Timothy Nerozzi and The Associated Press contributed to this report.