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State Department Official Condemns Harassment Of Iranian Journalists Abroad

File photo:US Assistant Secretary of State for democracy, human rights, and labor, Robert Destro (Photo by Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Roberto Destro has blasted Islamic Republic officials for threatening and persecuting Iranian journalists living abroad.

"The U.S. condemns the harassment and threats that Persian-language reporters are receiving from Iranian regime officials while working abroad," Destro tweeted on Thursday, February 6.

Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the U.S. Department of State also asserted in his tweet, "We stand with the Iranian people in their right to freedom of information and with independent journalists fighting to inform the public."

Reports on threats and harassment of Iranian journalists living and working outside the country have been rife in the past few months, leading to widespread international condemnation. The same kind of pressures were also intense prior to the start of nuclear negotiations in 2013.

Iran-linked hackers pose as journalists in email scams to obtain passwords and break into the email accounts of journalists, Reuters said in an exclusive report on Wednesday, February 5.

In a report published Wednesday, London-based cybersecurity company, Certfa, has named a hacking group nicknamed Charming Kitten, which has long been associated with Iran.

Israeli firm ClearSky Cyber Security provided Reuters with documentation of impersonations of two media figures at CNN and Deutsche Welle, a German public broadcaster. ClearSky also linked the hacking attempts to Charming Kitten, describing the individuals targeted as Israeli academics or researchers who study Iran. ClearSky declined to give the specific number of people targeted or to name them, citing client confidentiality, Reuters reported.