Albanian Police Search Empty Iranian Embassy After Burning Documents

Albanian Police Search Empty Iranian Embassy After Burning Documents
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TIRANA, Sept 8 (Reuters) – Albanian anti-terror police searched the empty Iranian embassy in Tirana on Thursday, hours after Iranian diplomats burned documents inside the premises following diplomatic ties being severed by a cyber attack.

Albania severed diplomatic ties with Iran on Wednesday, as Prime Minister Edi Rama blamed the July cyberattack on the Islamic Republic, giving his diplomats 24 hours to close the embassy and leave the country.

Police, wearing masks and helmets and carrying automatic rifles, entered the building – located just 200 meters (yards) from Rama’s office – after two cars with diplomatic plates left, a Reuters reporter saw.

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Thirty minutes later, the police were still inside.

The same reporter earlier saw a man inside the embassy throwing papers into a rusty barrel as flames lit up the walls of the three-story building.

In a rare video address on Wednesday, Rama said the July cyberattack “threatened to cripple public services, wipe digital systems and hack into state records, steal electronic communication from the government intranet, and cause chaos and insecurity in the country.

Washington, Albania’s closest ally, also blamed Iran for the attack and vowed to “take further steps to hold Iran accountable for actions that threaten the security of an ally of the United States.”

Tehran condemned Tirana’s decision to cut ties, describing the reasons for the move as “baseless claims”.

Bilateral relations have been strained since 2014, when Albania accepted some 3,000 members of the exiled opposition group People’s Mujahideen Organization of Iran – also known by its Farsi name Mujahideen-e-Khalq – to a camp near of Durres, the main port of the country. .

Days after the July 15 cyberattack, Tirana media reported that hackers had published opposition members’ personal data that was saved on Albanian state computers, such as personal, social and security numbers, names and photos.

On Thursday morning, it seemed quiet outside the embassy in Tirana located. A black Audi with a diplomatic license plate and darkened windows was seen entering and exiting while a police officer guarded the entrance.

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Information from Fatos Bytyci and Florion Goga; Edited by Kim Coghill and John Stonestreet

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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