Published: Mon, July 17, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

UAE arranged hacking of Qatari media

The Washington Post has cited USA intelligence officials who claim the UAE orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites in order to post false quotes attributed to Qatar's Emir.

Al Jazeera's Heidi Zhou-Castro, reporting from Washington, DC, said this is new information and the US Department of State has yet to officially respond.

Two weeks later, the four countries cut all links with Qatar over its alleged support for terrorism and relations with Iran.

According to intelligence officials, the working theory since the attacks was reported has been that the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt or a combination of these countries were involved in orchestrating the hacks.

In a series of tweets, the UAE Embassy in Washington said the UAE "had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking described in the article" in Washington Post.

However, Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE ambassador to the USA, has rubbished the report as false, claiming that the UAE had no role in the hacking of Qatar websites.

The objective of the hacking was to embed false news stories of an incendiary nature that led to the current Gulf crisis.

The US intelligence officials told the Washington Post it was unclear whether the UAE authorities had hacked the Qatar News Agency itself or paid a third party to do it.

The United Arab Emirates warned Qatar on Monday it could not belong to the Gulf Cooperation Council if it undermined regional security, calling for a "change of behaviour" but not "regime change". Worldwide allies such as the U.S. are anxious that the row could affect coalition counter-terrorism efforts against Isis. Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas [terrorist organizations, outlawed in Russia] and Qadafi. "Inciting violence, encouraging radicalisation, and undermining the stability of its neighbours", the statement said. Doha had previously asked USA and British officials to investigate the source of the hack.

Qatar rejected the demands, insisting that the list was so draconian that it was created to be turned down.

Gargash, who also suggested worldwide monitoring of Qatar was needed, added there were no plans for a meeting between the two sides under the auspices of Kuwait, a neutral Gulf Arab country seeking to mediate in the spat.

Gargash said the UAE would not escalate its boycott by asking companies to choose between doing business with it or Qatar.

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