UAE arranged for hacking of Qatar government sites, sparking diplomatic row

Frederick Owens
July 17, 2017

Qatar says the United Arab Emirates' alleged hacking of its government websites is a violation of global law.

The Post reported that U.S. intelligence officials learned last week of newly analysed information that showed that senior UAE government officials discussed the planned hacks on May 23, the day before they occurred.

The UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash said earlier on Monday that the Washington Post report was false and denied his country's involvement in any hack.

"What is true is Qatar's behavior". Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas and Gadhafi. "Inciting violence, encouraging radicalisation, and undermining the stability of its neighbours".

Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani was falsely quoted as praising Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as speaking positively about Iran and Israel - remarks that drew the ire of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and were later used as justification for severing diplomatic ties with the tiny Gulf kingdom.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed sanctions on Qatar on 5 June.

A senior United Arab Emirates (UAE) official said worldwide monitoring was needed in the standoff between Qatar and its Arab neighbours, adding he saw signs that the pressure exerted on Doha "was working".

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Qatar says it believes the Washington Post report, saying it "unequivocally proves that this hacking crime took place".

The Washington Post story also comes days after the USA secretary of state Rex Tillerson spent four days engaged in shuttle diplomacy between Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia - all strategic U.S. partners - seeking to find a way to resolve the crisis.

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.

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.

USA investigators have been working in Doha to help the Qatari government investigate the alleged hack, according to Qatari and United States government officials.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday returned to the United States from his shuttle diplomacy in the Gulf region to try to resolve the dispute.

Read: What is the Qatar crisis about? On June 22, four Arab states advanced 13 demands to Qatar for restoring relations and gave it a 10-day deadline to comply with them.

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