A news bulletin on Iran’s state television was hacked as videos of the country’s supreme leader were broadcast on Saturday, while protests sparked by the death of a young woman after she was arrested by police continued across the country.
The hackers dropped an image of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Below was a picture of Mahsa Amini who was arrested by morality police on September 13 for allegedly violating the country’s strictly enforced Islamic dress code. He died three days later.
Her photo appeared alongside three other women who were allegedly killed during the riots.
Throughout the 15-second hack, a caption read “Sign Up and Get Up!” and along with text criticizing Khamenei for their deaths. A song with the lyrics “Woman. ZOE. Freedom” — a common chant of the protesters — played in the background.
Social media details of a group calling itself “Edalat Ali” or “Ali’s Justice” were also posted on the screen.
Several Iranian state media noted on Sunday that similar hacks had taken place in the past. NBC News has not independently confirmed this.
The protests, which Iran’s leaders have sought to label the protests as a foreign conspiracy, entered their fourth week on Sunday despite a heavy crackdown by authorities in Iran.
Demonstrations that began on September 17 at the funeral of 22-year-old Amini in her hometown of Saqez continued in several cities including the Iranian capital Tehran, where hundreds of people took to the streets.
Police initially said Amini, an Iranian Kurd, died after falling ill and falling into a coma. But a medical examiner’s report released Friday said she died of multiple organ failure.
Her family said witnesses told them she had been beaten by officers – a claim denied by law enforcement.
With protests showing little sign of abating, at least two people were killed on Saturday as riot police were mobilized to deal with mass protests, the German headquarters Hengaw The Human Rights Organization said in a tweet. NBC News could not independently verify this.
However, a video posted on Twitter on Saturday and verified by NBC News shows a man bleeding profusely inside his car in the western city of Sanadai, the capital of the northwestern Kurdistan province.
Both the France-based Kurdistan Human Rights Network and Hengaw said the man was shot after honking at security forces stationed on the street. NBC News cannot independently verify this, but honking has become one of the ways activists have expressed civil disobedience.
Kurdistan’s police chief, Brigadier General Ali Azadi, denied that police killed the man in an interview with the state-run IRNA news agency. He added that police do not use live rounds and police were not at the scene.
Patrols prevented mass gatherings in Sanandai, but isolated protests continued in the city’s densely populated neighborhoods, according to the Associated Press.
Another video from a demonstration in the northeastern city of Mashhad shows a group of men throwing Molotov cocktails and other projectiles in the direction of riot police. NBC News has verified this video.
Meanwhile, many shops were closed in the capital Tehran as several protests broke out across the city, according to the AP.
Elsewhere A visit by Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi to an all-women’s university in the city seemingly backfired when students there began heckling him.
A large group of students can be seen waving their headscarves, clapping their hands and chanting slogans against Raishi and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a video posted on Twitter and verified by NBC News.
The protests were sparked by the deaths of two teenage girls since the unrest began, including 16-year-old Sarina Esmaeilzadeh.
Chief Justice Hossein Fazeli Herikandi said on Friday that the preliminary investigation showed that Esmaeilzadeh’s death was caused by suicide after she fell from the roof of a five-story building, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.
This has been disputed by various rights groups, including Amnesty International, and there has been widespread condemnation of the official inquiry’s finding on social media.
The death of Nika Shakarami, 16, has also been questioned.
A statement from the Tehran Provincial Criminal Prosecutor’s Office on Friday said the body was found in the backyard of a house in the capital Tehran on September 21.
The statement said her death was not related to the ongoing anti-government protests, adding that a medical examination of her body showed no trace of a bullet. An investigation into her death is ongoing, the statement added.
Shakarami’s mother, Nasreen Shakarami, disputed this in an interview with Radio Farda on Thursday. She told the station – the Iranian branch of US government-funded Radio Free Europe – that a forensic report showed her daughter died from repeated blows to the head, according to an AP report.
NBC News cannot verify this.
Associated Press contributed.