Hackers arrested for allegedly defacing U.S. websites after death of Iranian general

The Justice Department indicted two men on Tuesday for allegedly defacing dozens of U.S.-hosted websites in retaliation for the death of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani in a U.S. strike earlier this year.

Iranian national Behzad Mohammadzadeh and Palestinian national Marwan Abusrour were indicted for working together to allegedly target and deface over 50 websites hosted in the U.S., including several linked to an unnamed Massachusetts company, with the defendants allegedly replacing the text of the websites with a picture of Soleimani and the Iranian flag along with the message “Down with America.”

Mohammadzadeh and Abusrour are alleged to have conspired together to target and hack vulnerable U.S. websites, and were linked to earlier ongoing attacks on websites around the world prior to the death of Soleimani.

The Justice Department noted that “co-conspirators known and unknown” were also involved, and that Mohammadzadeh and Abusrour are believed to be living in Iran and Palestine respectively, but are wanted by U.S. authorities.

The two men were charged with intentionally conspiring to commit damage to a protected computer and for damaging a protected computer, with the charges added together carrying a jail sentence of up to 15 years and a $500,000 fine.

“The hackers victimized innocent third parties in a campaign to retaliate for the military action that killed Soleimani, a man behind countless acts of terror against Americans and others that the Iranian regime opposed,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said in a statement. “Their misguided, illegal actions in support of a rogue, destabilizing regime will come back to haunt them, as they are now fugitives from justice.”