Albanian authorities conduct operation at Iranian opposition camp
Albanian authorities have carried out an operation at a camp housing members of an Iranian opposition movement, following suspicions of their involvement in cyberattacks against foreign institutions.
The camp, known as Ashraf 3 and located northwest of Tirana, has provided a home for thousands of exiled opponents of the Iranian government, affiliated with the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), for the past ten years.
According to the PMOI, one person was reported deceased, and several of its members sustained injuries during clashes with the police. However, Albania’s Interior Minister and the police have denied any responsibility, with the police releasing footage of the operation as evidence.
Media outlets reported that upon the arrival of the police at the camp, hundreds of PMOI members attempted to resist their entry, with the group accusing the police of employing pepper spray. Interior Minister Blendi Cuci emphasized that the police took measures to avoid any “incidents” and asserted that no PMOI members were harmed by the officers. He further stated that the police were awaiting the results of a forensic report regarding the death of an individual in his seventies, emphasizing that the police forces were not accountable for the incident.
“The use of violence by the Mujahedin against the police is unacceptable,” Minister Cuci expressed.
The police have initiated an investigation into the PMOI’s allegations, as stated in their earlier announcement.
Local media indicated that the police operation was part of a cybercrime investigation, during which computers were seized by the officers.
A police statement clarified that their actions were carried out based on orders from the Albanian judiciary, citing “breach of agreements and commitments” made by the group “when they sought refuge in Albania for humanitarian reasons.”
Following a 2013 agreement supported by the UN and the US, which led to the PMOI’s departure from Iraq, the organization settled in various countries, including their unexpected home in Albania, a southeastern European nation grappling with economic challenges. Over time, the population at Ashraf 3, the largest PMOI camp globally, has grown to approximately 2,800 individuals.
Concerns regarding potential attacks arose following the group’s arrival in Albania. In 2022, Tirana severed diplomatic ties with Tehran, accusing the Iranian government of carrying out extensive cyberattacks against Albania.
Tehran has designated the People’s Mujahedin as a “terrorist group” and banned their activities since 1981.