Iran calls new US sanctions against its intelligence ministry “illegal”

The Iranian government has branded this Saturday as “illegal” the new sanctions imposed by the United States against the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and has again denied that Tehran was behind the cyberattack executed in July against official pages of Albania, before stressing that Washington seeks to “return to Tirana against the Islamic Republic of Iran”.

“The announcement of immediate US support for the Albanian government’s false accusations against Iran and Washington’s swift actions to sanction the Intelligence Ministry and its minister by resorting to this same false and unproven accusation clearly shows that the one who has set the stage is not the Albanian government, but the US government,” said Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Naser Kanani.

“Tirana is a victim of this designed scenario. The United States has turned the country against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said, before accusing the United States of protecting members of a “terrorist sect” on Albanian territory, referring to the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), considered a terrorist group by Tehran.

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In this regard, Kanani has claimed that Washington would have given members of the PMOI “training and equipment in the computer field.” “US tools have played a role in perpetrating terrorist acts, cyber-attacks and psychological warfare against the government and people of Iran,” he said.

Therefore, he stressed that the fact that Albania “hosts a terrorist sect” and the support of the United States to the group, which he accused of “shedding the blood of more than 17,000 Iranian citizens”, is “a clear example of organized support to terrorists against the government and the nation (of Iran)”.

“Iran will use all its capabilities, within the framework of international law, to protect the rights of the Iranian people and defend itself against these sinister conspiracies,” Kanani concluded, as stated in a statement published on the Iranian Foreign Ministry website.

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Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama on Wednesday announced the severance of relations with Iran and ordered all Iranian diplomats to leave the country within 24 hours after claiming that investigations into the cyber-attack have led to “irrefutable evidence” that the attack “was orchestrated and sponsored by Iran, which contacted four groups to attack Albania.”

For her part, U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson “strongly” condemned the “Iranian cyberattack” against Albania and demanded that Tehran “be held accountable for this unprecedented cyber incident.”

“The United States will take further action to hold Iran accountable for actions that threaten the security of a U.S. ally and set a troubling precedent in cyberspace,” he said, after the Treasury Department announced Friday sanctions against the Iranian Intelligence Ministry and its head, Esmail Khatib.

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