An unknown number of Iranian citizens have received all of the sudden messages promoting the defence of the American presidential election, as part of the recently announced effort of the U.S. State Department.
Russian media reported that on Thursday fellow citizens received similar messages too. Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, commented ironically on Facebook that the denunciations will overwhelm the State Department’s website.
It is still unclear the author of the messages, which started to appear online as in the shape of screenshots and photographs of the messages in the social media.
The Iran text messages written in Farsi say: “the United States pays up to $10 million for any information on foreign interference in American elections”. The messages provide a link to the U.S. Rewards for Justice Program, offering cash bounties in return for information on threats to American national security.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said to reporters on Wednesday that U.S. offer up to $10 million “for information leading to the identification or location of any person who, acting at the direction or under the control of a foreign government, interferes with U.S. elections by engaging in certain criminal cyber activities”.
U.S. Cyber Command forwarded the questions to the U.S. State Department, the did not comment immediately. The White House National Security Council did not immediately respond to a question about the texts.
Nariman Gharib, part of the cybersecurity group Certfa with headquarters in London, said he found out about the messages when Iranians who received the messages approached him privately early Thursday.
He said the texts constitutes a risk to those living in the country and that the U.S. had multiple options to communicate with Iranians, as online advertisements or Telegram channels.