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Iranian hackers release documents reportedly showing Raisi approved funds to suppress unrest

Ebrahim Raisi speaks at a political rally in Iran. (Hossein Razaqnejad, Wikimedia Commons released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

A group of hackers has reportedly leaked government documents suggesting Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi approved the use of at least 100 trillion Iranian rials ($200 million) to put down protests during the recent nationwide unrest sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in September while she was in police custody for an alleged head-scarf offense.

The hackers, known as Uprising Until Overthrow and affiliated with the exiled opposition Mujahedin-e Khalq organization (MKO), reportedly hacked and released the highly confidential correspondence between the General Staff of the Armed Forces, the Thar Allah Headquarters in Tehran, and Raisi’s office.

The Thar Allah Headquarters, which operates under the command of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), is tasked with suppressing protests in various parts of Tehran Province.

The MKO is considered a terrorist group by Tehran. RFE/RL could not immediately verify the authenticity of the materials, which were marked “very confidential.”

The leaked correspondence dates back to early November during a period of extensive protests against the government sparked by Amini’s death.

According to the documents, Mohammad Bagheri, the head of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, wrote to Raisi requesting an immediate allocation of “at least 100 trillion rials” to “end the current situation.” The funds were targeted to cover “essential items” needed by security forces, including vehicles, clothing, individual equipment, and other “unavoidable operational costs.”

In response to the request, Gholamhossein Esmaili, the head of Raisi’s office, wrote a highly confidential and urgent letter to the head of the country’s Planning and Budget Organization seeking the “necessary assistance” for the financial request.

Further documents published by the hacker group show that Esmaili also requested funds for the Thar Allah Headquarters in Tehran. The headquarters had asked Raisi to allocate tens of billions of Rials to suppress student protests.

The confidential correspondence coincides with reports by the state-run IRNA news agency that a 20 percent increase in the salaries of military and law enforcement personnel had been approved in the annual budget amendment bill.

Since September 2022, thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets to demand more freedoms and women’s rights, with the judiciary, backed by lawmakers, responding to the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution with a brutal crackdown.

Thousands have been arrested, including many protesters, as well as journalists, lawyers, activists, digital rights defenders, and others. At least seven protesters have been executed after what rights groups and several Western governments have called “sham” trials.

Several more remain on death row and senior judiciary officials have said they are determined to ensure those convicted and sentenced have their punishments meted out.

The activist HRANA news agency said that more than 500 people were killed during the unrest, including 71 minors, as security forces try to stifle widespread dissent.