Iran tightens restrictions on ex-President Khatami

Mohammed Khatami
Updated 07 October 2017
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Iran tightens restrictions on ex-President Khatami

TEHRAN: Iran’s opposition said Friday that restrictions have been tightened on reformist former President Mohammed Khatami, barring him from all public meetings for three months.
Khatami has been banned from appearing in the media since mass protests against the government in 2009-2010, but continues to wield considerable power behind the scenes.
The opposition Kalemeh website said the Special Clerical Court had sent Khatami a letter asking him “not to take part in any political ceremonies and publicity for three months.”
This was said to include any meetings, theater performances and concerts, and barred individuals, government and seminary officials and student union members from meeting with him.
The new restrictions were first revealed by Khatami’s nephew Mohammed Reza Tabesh, a member of Parliament, earlier this week.
The letter was said to have been signed by the head of the Special Clerical Court, Ebrahim Raisi, the hard-line runner-up in this May’s presidential election.
The conservative Fars and Mehr news agencies said on Thursday that unnamed officials had denied the existence of the letter or the new restrictions.
But outspoken member of Parliament Ali Motahari — considered a political moderate — criticized the new measures, saying they were illegal without proper consultation with Khatami or his lawyers.
“We have a good constitution and the Parliament has also devised good laws but some councils and institutions such as the Special Clerical Court bypass the constitution and the Parliament and drag the country toward autocracy,” he said in comments carried by the semi-official ISNA news agency.
“Imposing more restrictions, at a time when public opinion is opposed to the continuation of the house arrest is regrettable,” Motahari added.


Cybersecurity firm: More Iran hacks as US sanctions loom

Alister Shepherd, the director of a subsidiary of FireEye, during a presentation about the APT33 in Dubai Tuesday. (AP)
Updated 20 September 2018
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Cybersecurity firm: More Iran hacks as US sanctions loom

  • The firm warns that this raises the danger level ahead of America re-imposing crushing sanctions on Iran’s oil industry in early November.
  • Iran’s mission to the UN rejected FireEye’s report, calling it “categorically false.”

DUBAI: An Iranian government-aligned group of hackers launched a major campaign targeting Mideast energy firms and others ahead of US sanctions on Iran, a cybersecurity firm said Tuesday, warning further attacks remain possible as America reimposes others on Tehran.

While the firm FireEye says the so-called “spear-phishing” email campaign only involves hackers stealing information from infected computers, it involves a similar type of malware previously used to inject a program that destroyed tens of thousands of terminals in Saudi Arabia.

The firm warns that this raises the danger level ahead of America re-imposing crushing sanctions on Iran’s oil industry in early November.

“Whenever we see Iranian threat groups active in this region, particularly in line with geopolitical events, we have to be concerned they might either be engaged in or pre-positioning for a disruptive attack,” Alister Shepherd, a director for a FireEye subsidiary, told The Associated Press.

Iran’s mission to the UN rejected FireEye’s report, calling it “categorically false.”

“Iran’s cyber capabilities are purely defensive, and these claims made by private firms are a form of false advertising designed to attract clients,” the mission said in a statement. “They should not be taken at face value.”

FireEye, which often works with governments and large corporations, refers to the group of Iranian hackers as APT33, an acronym for “advanced persistent threat.” APT33 used phishing email attacks with fake job opportunities to gain access to the companies affected, faking domain names to make the messages look legitimate. Analysts described the emails as “spear-phishing” as they appear targeted in nature.

FireEye first discussed the group last year around the same time. This year, the company briefed journalists after offering presentations to potential government clients in Dubai at a luxury hotel and yacht club on the man-made, sea-horse-shaped Daria Island.

While acknowledging their sales pitch, FireEye warned of the danger such Iranian government-aligned hacking groups pose. Iran is believed to be behind the spread of Shamoon in 2012, which hit Saudi Arabian Oil Co. and Qatari natural gas producer RasGas. The virus deleted hard drives and then displayed a picture of a burning American flag on computer screens. Saudi Aramco ultimately shut down its network and destroyed over 30,000 computers.

A second version of Shamoon raced through Saudi government computers in late 2016, this time making the destroyed computers display a photograph of the body of 3-year-old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi, who drowned fleeing his country’s civil war.

But Iran first found itself as a victim of a cyberattack. Iran developed its cyber capabilities in 2011 after the Stuxnet computer virus destroyed thousands of centrifuges involved in Iran’s contested nuclear program. Stuxnet is widely believed to be an American and Israeli creation.

APT33’s emails haven’t been destructive. However, from July 2 through July 29, FireEye saw “a by-factors-of-10 increase” in the number of emails the group sent targeting their clients, Shepherd said.