Qatar links news agency hack to boycotting countries

Qatar blames the hacking of its official news agency website for controversial comments falsely attributed to its leader which caused a diplomatic spat with its neighbours in the Arab Gulf.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Qatar says statements were falsely attributed to Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani. US government agencies and experts agree that the news agency and the Qatari government's Twitter feed were hacked, they have not yet determined who did the hacking.

Updated Jun 21, 2017

Qatar has evidence that the hacking of Qatar's state news agency was linked to countries that have severed ties with Doha, the country’s attorney general said on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates cut their ties with Doha earlier this month over comments alleged to have been made by the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani and posted briefly on the Qatar News Agency's website on May 23.

The comments quoted Sheikh Tamim as cautioning against confrontation with Iran and defending the Palestinian group Hamas and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah movement in Lebanon.

Doha denied the comments, saying the website had been hacked.

"Qatar has evidence that certain iPhones originating from countries laying siege to Qatar were used in the hack," the Qatari Attorney General Ali Bin Fetais al Marri told reporters in Doha.

Marri said it was too early to explicitly name the countries responsible for the hacking and declined to comment when he was asked if individuals or states were behind it.

Arab countries at odds with Qatar accuse it of supporting militant groups and advancing the agenda of their arch-rival Iran in the region - charges Doha calls baseless.

Marri also said that a list of individuals and entities designated by the Arab countries as terrorists was "baseless," adding that Doha would legally pursue those who had done harm to the Gulf Arab state.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain on June 8 named 59 people, including Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yousef al Qaradawi, and 12 entities, as terrorists.

TRTWorld, Reuters