A cartoon against Iran’s ruler Ali Khamenei published by French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo

Iran Behind Cyber Attack On Charlie Hebdo: Microsoft

Saturday, 02/04/2023

Security researchers at Microsoft say an Iranian regime-backed hacking team apparently stole and leaked data from the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Clint Watts, the general manager of Microsoft's Digital Threat Analysis Center, said Friday that the hackers, who called themselves "Holy Souls," were from Iranian cybersecurity firm Emennet Pasargad.

Emennet Pasargad was the employer of two Iranians, Mohammad Hosein Musa Kazemi and Sajjad Kashian, who were indicted by the United States Justice Department in November 2021.

They allegedly conducted a cyber campaign "to intimidate and influence American voters, and otherwise undermine voter confidence and sow discord" during the 2020 US presidential election.

In early January Holy Souls announced they had obtained the personal information of more than 200,000 Charlie Hebdo customers and published a sample of the data as proof.

It came after the magazine published a series of cartoons that negatively depicted Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. The caricatures were part of a media campaign that Charlie Hebdo said was intended to support anti-government protests in Iran that swept the country following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini in mid-September.

Iran publicly vowed an "effective response" to the "insulting" cartoons, and summoned the French envoy in Tehran, while also ending activities of the French Institute of Research in Iran and saying it was re-evaluating France's cultural activities in the country.

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