Protests on Tehran's Keshavrz Boulvard on Tuesday. Image: Darafsh

Anonymous takes down Iranian government websites amid protests following death of Mahsa Amini

Anonymous hackers have claimed to be behind attacks on several websites affiliated with the Iranian government amid protests following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.

Several websites, including for the central bank and the national government portal and state-owned media sites, have been intermittently unreachable.

Some hacktivist accounts have claimed to have conducted destructive attacks on these government websites, including deleting databases associated with the site for the government spokesperson, although no evidence has been provided for those claims.

Amini — who was Kurdish and also went by her Kurdish name Jhina Amini — died last Friday while in the custody of the Islamic Republic’s morality police after being detained for what the authorities described as an improper hijab.

Although the authorities say that police did not physically attack Amini while she was in custody — instead stating she had a heart attack and died in a hospital — her family have questioned this narrative, saying she had no history of heart problems and had bruises on her legs.

Her death has prompted international and domestic outrage, with videos showing crowds cheering as women set fire to their headscarves — compulsory under the clerical regime’s hijab laws — and police violently beating protesters, including women.

So far three protesters have been killed and many more injured in clashes with police, according to Kurdish activist group the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights. Iran's official IRNA news agency has said that a "police assistant" died and four officers were injured on Tuesday evening.

Mahsa Alimardani, a senior researcher on digital rights at Article 19, told The Record: “These acts of international solidarity, while they might not actually impede the Islamic Republic, are symbolic actions that keep the morale of a people going, especially as they  are up against the insurmountable odds of a national apparatus that is not afraid to use unlawful force to put them down.”

The protests have been covered by the Fars News Agency, which is managed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and considered “semi-official.”

In a sign of the level of outrage it reported that protesters were chanting slogans criticizing the government and Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Videos and messages about the protests have been shared on social media platforms, in particular Twitter and Telegram, showing people chanting “death to the dictator.”

According to Article 19’s Alimardani, Iran’s ICT minister has said that internet disruptions are possible due to the “national security” implications of the unrest. 

Iranian government authorities have not issued a statement about the hacktivist cyberattacks.

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Alexander Martin

Alexander Martin is the UK Editor for Recorded Future News. He was previously a technology reporter for Sky News and is also a fellow at the European Cyber Conflict Research Initiative.