Hackers breach Iran’s atomic energy agency, protests persist

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DUBAI: Iran’s atomic energy agency alleged on Sunday that hackers acting on behalf of an unidentified foreign country broke into a subsidiary’s network and gained free access to its email system.
An anonymous hacking group has claimed responsibility for the attack on the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and demanded that Tehran release political prisoners arrested in recent protests across the country. The group said it leaked 50 gigabytes of internal emails, contracts and construction plans related to the Russian-backed Iranian nuclear power plant in Bushehr and shared the files on its Telegram channel. It was not clear if the breached system contained classified material.
The attack comes as Iran continues to face nationwide unrest sparked by the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman in police custody for allegedly failing to adhere to the country’s strict Islamic dress code.
Iran’s civilian nuclear arm said hackers breached the email system used by a company that operates the country’s only nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr. The agency blamed a “foreign country” for the attack, without elaborating. Iran has previously blamed the United States and Israel for cyberattacks that damaged the country’s infrastructure.
“These illegal efforts out of desperation are aimed at attracting public attention,” the organization said.
An anonymous hacker group calling itself “Black Reward” posted on Telegram what appeared to be contract files, construction plans and details about equipment at the Bushehr plant, which was brought online in 2011 with the help from Russia.
“Unlike Westerners, we do not flirt with criminal mullahs,” the group wrote.
Meanwhile, the Coordination Council of the Teachers’ Union, the main teachers’ association in Iran that has been vocal in the protests, reported that schools, mostly in Iran’s Kurdish provinces, responded to its call to boycott the classes on Sunday in protest of the deaths and arrests of students in the past. month of riots There was no immediate recognition of the strikes by the authorities.
The union shared photos of teachers holding protest signs reading “Woman, Life, Freedom” instead of teaching in schools in the Kurdish cities of Sanandaj, Marivan, Kermanshah and Saqez, as well as in the mountainous provinces of Hamadan and West Azerbaijan. .
“Schools have been turned into barracks and tear gas is thrown in the faces of primary school students,” one teacher wrote in a letter shared by the union. “History will record the names of this brave generation.”
Campuses have long been a flashpoint of unrest in Iran, including during the 1953 student protests under the Western-backed shah and during the 1999 pro-democracy demonstrations under reformist former president Mohammad Khatami.
At Tehran’s prestigious Sharif University of Technology, the scene of an hours-long siege by security forces earlier this month that ended with the arrest of dozens of students, protests erupted as students tore down the barrier separating to men from women in the campus cafeteria, a student union said.
“Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!” the massive crowd of students screamed at the top of their lungs, footage showed, pumping their fists in the air.

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