Iran has used a server in the Netherlands to conduct surveillance on Iranian dissidents across the planet, according to a report on the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.
The security company Bitdefender and the radio program Argos located the server in a data center near the city of Haarlem that they said was devised by Tehran’s regime to spy on Iranian dissidents, according to the report.
Rik Delhaas, a journalist with Argos, provided an account of the alleged Iranian espionage operation to NOS.
Argos identified the server, because an Iranian man based in the Netherlands provided the tip and an Iranian dissident on the social media platform Telegram received a file with respect to the surveillance operation. “Fortunately he did not open it and his computer was not infected,” Delhaas said.
Delhaas said some of the targets of the regime’s surveillance were in the Netherlands, but the majority were abroad.
NOS reported that the Iranian regime surveillance operation was not the first act of hacking. In late 2020, Argos and Bitdefender located a server that enabled Iran to illegally access devices.
According to NOS’ report, the “newly found server would assist after that first step of infection, and make it possible to collect documents by taking screenshots and making audio recordings.”
The security company found that the Iranian regime sought to illicitly access computers and phones in the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and India. NL Times reported that “the American company that rents the servers immediately stopped cooperation with the party behind this server, after Argos informed it of their findings.”
The US company was not identified.
In 2020, Sadegh Zarza, a 64-year-old former member of the leadership of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, escaped an assassination attempt in the Netherlands.
Zarza’s brother, Taher, told the Dutch paper Leeuwarden Courant that Sadegh suffered numerous stab wounds to his chest, stomach, neck, and head.
In 2019, the Dutch government accused Iran’s regime of assassinating two Iranian dissidents in the Netherlands.