Albania cuts ties with Iran over ‘cyberattack’


TIRANA: Albania broke diplomatic ties with Iran on Wednesday, Prime Minister Edi Rama said in a statement, as the leader accused Iran of launching a massive cyberattack against the country this summer.
“The Council of Ministers has decided on the severance of diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran with immediate effect,” said Rama.
The prime minister accused Iran of directing a cyberattack against Albanian institutions on July 15 in a bid to “paralyze public services and hack data and electronic communications from the government systems.”
“The said attack failed its purpose. Damages may be considered minimal compared to the goals of the aggressor. All systems came back fully operational and there was no irreversible wiping of data,” Rama added.
The prime minister went on to say that Iranian diplomats and support staff had 24 hours to leave the country following the announcement.
Albania and Iran have been bitter foes for years, stemming from Tirana’s hosting of the Iranian opposition group the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK) on its soil.
Albania agreed in 2013 to take in members of the exiled group at the request of Washington and the United Nations, with thousands settling in the Balkan country over the years.
Following the collapse of its communist government in the early 1990s, Albania has transformed into a steadfast ally of the US and the West, with the country officially joining NATO in 2009.
Iranian opposition groups in exile have accused Tehran of targeting their events and personnel for years.
In 2018, Belgian police thwarted a terrorist attack that was supposed to target an Iranian opposition rally outside Paris, after which an Iranian diplomat was convicted for supplying explosives for the plot.
Albania has expelled a string of Iranian diplomats from the Balkan country over the years, including Tehran’s ambassador to the country in December 2018.