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Iranian state TV streaming site targeted with anti-government message

Dissident video played on network just ahead of commemoration ceremonies for 1979 Islamic Revolution

In this screenshot from video, a purported dissident message is seen from an online account calling itself 'The Justice of Ali' that reportedly played overtop of an Iranian state television streaming feed on Feb. 1, 2022  (AP Photo)
In this screenshot from video, a purported dissident message is seen from an online account calling itself 'The Justice of Ali' that reportedly played overtop of an Iranian state television streaming feed on Feb. 1, 2022 (AP Photo)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A streaming website that features Iranian state television programming has acknowledged suffering technical issues amid reports that dissident hackers played an anti-government message on the platform.

Telewebion said it suffered “infrastructure” irregularities Tuesday and suffered an archive failure, without elaborating on the cause.

The problems came as a video message circulated online claiming to be from a self-described group of hackers called “The Justice of Ali” in Farsi. In the video, which Farsi-language news networks abroad say played on the streaming platform, a masked man appears and a muffled voice says Iran’s government “will no longer silence us.”

“We’ll burn hijabs. We’ll burn their pictures and propaganda posters,” the man says. “We will break their idols. We will reveal their palaces so that the people can punish them.”

“The Justice of Ali” did not immediately respond to a request for comment via an account it used in an earlier conversation with The Associated Press. In August it released footage showing grim condition at Iran’s notorious Evin prison it claimed it obtained through a hack.

The video comes just ahead of commemoration ceremonies for Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution this month. It also follows an apparent hack Thursday that saw multiple channels of Iran’s state television broadcast images showing the leaders of an exiled dissident group and a graphic calling for the death of the country’s supreme leader.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei greets participants in an endorsement ceremony to give his official seal of approval to newly elected President Ebrahim Raisi, in Tehran, Iran, August 3, 2021. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

The incident Tuesday potentially marks the latest in a series of embarrassing cyberattacks against the Islamic Republic, as world powers struggle to revive a tattered nuclear deal with Tehran. Other attacks, which Iran has blamed on Israel, have targeted its nuclear program.

In October, an assault on Iran’s fuel distribution system paralyzed gas stations nationwide, leading to long lines of angry motorists unable to get subsidized fuel for days. An earlier cyberattack on Iran’s railway system caused chaos and train delays.

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