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US blames Iran for 'reckless and irresponsible cyber attack' on Albania

Cyberattack [REUTERS/Kacper Pempel]
Cyberattack, 19 September 2019 [REUTERS/Kacper Pempel]

The US today condemned what it said was Iran's "cyberattack against our NATO Ally, Albania".

In a statement issued by the White House, Washington said an investigation into the 15 July cyber attack on government systems, which disrupted services found that "the Government of Iran conducted this reckless and irresponsible cyberattack and that it is responsible for subsequent hack and leak operations."

"Malicious cyber activity by a State that intentionally damages critical infrastructure or otherwise impairs its use and operation to provide services to the public can have cascading domestic, regional, and global effects; pose an elevated risk of harm to the population; and may lead to escalation and conflict."

"The United States will take further action to hold Iran accountable for actions that threaten the security of a US ally and set a troubling precedent for cyberspace," it continued.

This comes as Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said today that he is ending diplomatic relations with Iran and has ordered Iranian diplomats and embassy staff to leave within 24 hours.

READ: Turkiye has an important role in the Balkan region, Albanian PM says

"This extreme response … is fully proportionate to the gravity and risk of the cyberattack that threatened to paralyse public services, erase digital systems and hack into state records, steal government intranet electronic communication and stir chaos and insecurity in the country," Rama said, according to Reuters.

There was no immediate reaction from the Iranian embassy in Tirana.

The two countries have had tense relations since 2014, when Albania accepted some 3,000 members of the exiled opposition group People's Mujahideen Organisation of Iran, also known by its Farsi name Mujahideen-e-Khalq, who have settled in a camp near Durres, the country's main port.

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