Iranian diplomats seen burning documents hours before leaving Albania

Iranian diplomats burned documents early Thursday morning hours before leaving the country after Albania cut diplomatic ties with Iran, blaming the Islamic Republic for a cyberattack in July.

In a rare video address on Wednesday, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said he had ordered Iranian diplomats and staff to close the embassy and leave the country within 24 hours.

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Rama said the July cyberattack “threatened to cripple public services, wipe out digital systems and hack into state records, steal electronic communications from the government intranet and wreak havoc and insecurity in the country”.

A Reuters witness saw a man inside the embassy throw papers into a rusty barrel, with flames illuminating the walls of the three-storey embassy.

Washington, Albania’s closest ally, also blamed Iran for the attack and vowed to “take further steps to hold Iran accountable for actions that threaten Albania’s security.” an American ally”.

Tehran has strongly condemned Tirana’s decision to sever diplomatic ties, calling the reasons for Albania’s decision “unsubstantiated claims”.

Albania and Iran have had strained relations since 2014, when Albania accepted some 3,000 members of the exiled opposition group People’s Mojahedin of Iran, also known by its Farsi name Mujahideen-e-Khalq. , who settled in a camp near Durres, the country’s main city. Port.

A few days after the cyberattack, Tirana-based media reported that hackers had released personal data of opposition members that were stored in Albanian state computers, such as personal, social and security numbers. , names and photos.

Thursday morning, calm appeared in front of the Tirana embassy located just 200 meters (yards) from the Prime Minister’s office.

A black Audi with diplomatic car plates and darkened windows was seen driving in and out as a police officer guarded the entrance.

Read more:

We have evidence confirming Iranian involvement in cyberattack: Albanian MP

US warns of ‘further actions’ after Iranian cyberattack in Albania

UK accuses Iran of ‘reckless’ cyberattack on Albania