United Arab Emirates denies hacking of Qatari news agency

Foreign minister denies story citing US officials saying UAE orchestrated hack

Anwar Gargash, United Arab Emirates foreign minister. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Anwar Gargash, United Arab Emirates foreign minister. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

 

The United Arab Emirates was not responsible for an alleged hack of Qatari websites that helped spark a month-long diplomatic rift with Doha, the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs said on Monday.

Anwar Gargash denied as false a story in the Washington Post that cited US officials saying the UAE had orchestrated the hack of Qatar’s state news agency.

“The Washington Post story today that we actually hacked the Qataris is also not true,” he said.

The remarks posted on Qatari government news websites criticised attempts to isolate Iran. Qatari government spokesman Sheikh Saif Bin Ahmed Al-Thani said at the time the postings were false and the result of a hack by an “unknown entity.”

Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, was quoted in May as praising Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement and calling Iran an “Islamic power”.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed sanctions on Qatar on June 5th, cutting diplomatic and transport ties with the tiny Gulf monarchy, after accusing it of financing militant groups and allying with their regional arch-enemy Iran. Doha denies the accusations.

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

Qatar said in late May that hackers had posted fake remarks by the emir, an explanation rejected by Gulf states. The Post reported that US intelligence officials learned last week of newly analysed information that showed that top UAE government officials discussed the planned hacks on May 23rd, the day before they occurred. The officials said it was unclear if the UAE hacked the websites or paid for them to be carried out, the newspaper reported.

– Reuters, Bloomberg