Published: Mon, July 17, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

UAE arranged hacking of Qatari media

UAE arranged hacking of Qatari media

The Qatari foreign ministry said in a statement neighboring countries have shown readiness to participate in the investigation of the alleged hacking of the Qatari state-owned Qatar News Agency (QNA) website, stressing that Qatar will take all means, measures and legal procedures necessary to prosecute perpetrators, Russia's Sputnik reported.

The UAE embassy in Washington on Monday sent a series of tweets quoting its ambassador, Yousef Al Otaiba, denying the Washington Post report, which was published Sunday and, according to the paper, was based on information provided by unnamed USA intelligence officials. "Inciting violence, encouraging radicalisation, and undermining the stability of its neighbours", the statement said.

The hacking of Qatari media services in May saw the tiny Gulf state's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, quoted as praising Hamas and describing Iran as an "Islamic power".

Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and allies in Egypt and Bahrain cut trade and political ties with Qatar on 5 June, claiming that Doha meddled in global affairs and funded terrorist organisations. The hack also involved the planting of damning false stories about Qatar's emir.

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But Qatar said that the Washington Post report proved its version of events, that its websites were hacked and that quotes were fabricated and published.

According the Washington Post, U.S. intelligence officials concluded United Arab Emirates arranged the cyber attack of Qatar's state-run news and social media sites, sparking a rift between Qatar and its neighbors in the Arab region.

The US sources alleged UAE officials had discussed the planned hacks on May 23, just days before they occurred, but added that it remained unclear whether the UAE carried out the hack itself or paid another entity to do so.

"These are certainly developments that will be analysed and will have a major role to play in negotiations coming up", she said.

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While previous reports have cited USA officials claiming that Russian hackers were involved in the QNA incident, they were not explicitly tied to any of the four countries isolating Qatar.

US President Donald Trump visited the region the next day, meeting with Gulf leaders in Riyadh, and the operation was put into action later the same day. But his efforts, and those of European states, have so far been unsuccessful.

Last month, Mr Al Otaiba's emails were hacked and released by a group linked to Qatar called GlobalLeaks.

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