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Anonymous takes on Iranian government in support of women-led protests


The hacktivist collective has pledged to fight Iran's "dictatorial rule and murderous cops" after a woman died in police custody for not wearing a headscarf properly.

Anonymous has claimed to be behind a series of cyberattacks against the Iranian government websites and state-affiliated media outlets.

Iran's central bank appears to be among its latest targets. The Twitter account linked to the Anonymous group declared that the bank's website was down today.

Earlier, two of Iran's main government websites were also attacked, including an e-services platform and the official government news portal. The webpage of the Iranian state television channel was also down for a while, along with several other websites.

Cyberattacks were launched shortly after the Anonymous collective announced it was starting a "cyber operation" against the Iranian government on Tuesday.

It said the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, at the hands of morality police was the "last straw" in a video posted on social media. Originally from the north-western city of Saqez, Amini was arrested in Tehran last week for violating the rules on wearing a hijab, or headscarf.

She fell into a coma while in detention and died three days later on Friday. The authorities deny reports that Amini was a victim of police brutality and said she suffered a "sudden heart failure." Her family disputes this, saying she was fit and healthy.

Amini's death has sparked mass protests across Iran, with women at the forefront. Some have publicly burned their hijabs – a striking act of courage in the Islamic Republic. As unrest continues for the fifth day and spreads to more cities, six people are believed to have now been killed.

"The Iranian people are not alone. Anonymous will not keep the Iranian government alive on the internet as long as they fight the dictatorial rule and murderous cops," Anonymous said in a video message and pledged to fight the Iranian government's attempts to silence its people.

"You censored your people's social media and other communications to suppress knowledge of your crimes against them. Now Anonymous will shut you down, and your own people will remove you from power," it said.

According to internet watchdog NetBlocks, Iran "is now subject to the most severe internet restrictions" since mass demonstrations in 2019, when hundreds of protesters were killed during the government's crackdown on dissent. Instagram and WhatsApp, two of the last remaining international platforms in Iran, were restricted on Wednesday, NetBlocks said.

It is not the first "operation" in which Anonymous explicitly targets a state actor. In February, Anonymous declared a cyberwar against Russia to help support Ukraine against Moscow's aggression.


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