Iran state TV shows dissidents’ images after apparent hack

DUBAI, Jan 27:  Channels of Iran’s state television broadcast images Thursday showing the leaders of an exiled dissident group and a graphic demanding the country’s supreme leader be killed, an incident that state TV later described as a hack.

For several seconds, graphics flashed on screen showing the leaders of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq and the name of a social media account, which claimed to be a group of hackers who broadcast the message honouring the dissidents.

The MEK, now largely based in Albania, did not immediately answer telephone calls seeking comment.

The hack represented a major breach of Iranian state television, long believed to controlled and operated by members of the Islamic Republic’s intelligence branches, particularly its hard-line Revolutionary Guard. Such an incident hasn’t happened for years.

Iran’s state TV acknowledged the breach as a “hack,” saying the case was “under investigation.”

A clip of the incident seen by the AP showed the faces of MEK leaders Massoud Rajavi and his wife, Maryam Rajavi, suddenly superimposed on the channel’s regular 3 p.M. News programming. A man’s voice chants, “Salute to Rajavi, death to (supreme leader) Khamenei.”

Then, a speech from Rajavi briefly plays over the images. He can be heard saying, “Today, we still honor the time that we declared death to the reactionary. We stood by it …”     Massoud Rajavi hasn’t been seen publicly in nearly two decades and is presumed to have died. Maryam Rajavi now runs the MEK.

The MEK began as a socialist organisation against the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. It claimed and was suspected in a series of attacks against U.S. Officials in Iran in the 1970s, something the group now denies.

It supported the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but soon had a falling out with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and turned against the clerical regime. It carried out a series of assassinations and bombings targeting the young Islamic Republic.

The MEK later fled into Iraq and backed dictator Saddam Hussein during his bloody eight-year war against Iran in the 1980s. That saw many oppose the group in Iran, though to this day it claims to operate a network inside of the country. (AP)