Iran behind recent cyberattack on Charlie Hebdo magazine, according to Microsoft executive


The cyberattack occurred after the cartoon contest was described as “insulting” to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

A top executive at US tech giant Microsoft claimed on Friday that Tehran was behind the recent cyber attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which followed a cartoon contest deemed “insulting” to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Hacker group “Holy Souls” claimed responsibility for the cyber attack. However, Clint Watts, a top executive of the American company, claims in his online post that behind the attack is Iran’s Emennet Pasargad, which Microsoft often calls Neptunium.

In early January, the “Holy Souls” hackers announced that they had obtained the personal data of more than 200,000 Charlie Hebdo subscribers, which they “sold” for 20 bitcoins (about $340,000), according to Microsoft.

The French satirical magazine did not respond to an AFP request for comment.

“Whatever one thinks of Charlie Hebdo’s editorial choices, the release of the personal data of thousands of its subscribers poses a serious threat,” Microsoft underlines.

Charlie Hebdo had announced an “international competition” for “the most bizarre and awful cartoon of Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran”, which has been rocked for several months by an unprecedented wave of protests in the wake of the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. The Iranian, of Kurdish origin, died after being arrested by morality police in Tehran for violating the strict dress code imposed on women.

Khamenei’s “offensive” sketches caused a diplomatic crisis between Paris and Tehran.

Two Emennet Pasargad employees have been indicted in the United States for engaging in a disinformation and public opinion manipulation operation ahead of the 2020 US presidential election.


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