Hackers Reveal Secret Documents About Iranian Protests, Purges
On the first day of the new academic year in Iran, a hacker group called Ghiyam ta Sarnegouni (Uprising till Overthrow), which is affiliated with the People’s Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MEK), announced that they had gained control over 500 servers of Iran’s Ministry of Science. They claimed to have acquired access to over 20,000 classified documents, some of which have been published on their Instagram and Telegram accounts.
These documents reveal information about the purging of academics critical of the government or supportive of the Women, Life, Freedom movement. As a result of this purge, 15,000 pro-regime professors and staff have been hired in universities. Additionally, authorities plan to implement new student selection procedures and expel thousands of students who have participated in the protest movement. They have even allowed the acceptance of Iraq’s Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi militias and other proxies in Iranian universities.
The Ministry of Science’s public relations released a statement claiming that “vigilant technical experts” had repelled the cyber-attack and temporarily shut down the ministry’s website for investigation.
In the past year, MEK-affiliated hackers have targeted various government agencies, including Tehran Municipality, the state broadcasting corporation (IRIB), the Presidential Office, and the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, and Islamic Guidance. They have published thousands of documents obtained from these attacks.
A “very confidential” document published by the hackers reveals the proceedings of a Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution meeting. It includes demographic data about last year’s nationwide protests, based on information from intelligence agencies such as the Ministry of Intelligence and the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Intelligence Organization (SAS). The document highlights that 82% of detainees in the first two weeks of the protests were teenagers and young people under the age of thirty, with men comprising 88% of all detainees. It also states that authorities had no records related to 93% of detainees and that protesters promoted civil disobedience in places like bazaars, metros, and city buses. The document indicates the presence of “hatred towards the Islamic Republic, hostility, and civil disobedience” among the protesters.
In a classified letter to President Ebrahim Raisi, Higher Education Minister Mohammad-Ali Zolfigol reveals that some university chancellors were reluctant to cooperate with security bodies in suppressing the students. Academic officials who had signed statements against such measures were fired. Zolfigol mentions that Sharif University of Technology, one of Iran’s top universities, had come under the control of rioters. The National Security Council (NSC) and Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) officially demanded the chancellor of the university to be sacked. The minister emphasizes that fundamental changes are necessary for the university to be controlled in case of future unrest.
Last year, protests took place in at least 150 universities across Iran, with many students receiving support from their professors. Documents obtained by hackers from the IRGC-affiliated Fars News Agency indicated that at least 51% of students at state universities participated in Women, Life, Freedom protests. The recent purge of academia in Iranian universities, referred to as the “second cultural revolution,” has deeply affected many Iranians.