U.A.E. Is Behind Qatar Hacking in May, Washington Post Reports

Jul 17, 2017 1:28 am ET

(Bloomberg) -- The U.A.E. was behind the hacking of Qatari websites in May to post incendiary false quotes, an incident that ultimately led to the Saudi-led boycott of Qatar, the Washington Post reported, citing U.S. intelligence officials it didn’t name.

Senior United Arab Emirates officials discussed the plan on May 23, according to newly analyzed information collected by U.S. intelligence agencies, the report said. Yousef al-Otaiba, the U.A.E. Ambassador to Washington, said in a statement that his country “had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking,” describing the article as "false," the Post said.

The hacking took place shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia. The remarks posted on Qatari government news websites criticized 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.”

Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and transport links with Qatar on June 5, accusing Doha of supporting Sunni extremists and Iranian-backed Shiite militants, charges Qatar has repeatedly denied.

It was unclear whether U.A.E. carried out the hacks itself or had contracted to have them done, the Post said. The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the CIA, and the FBI declined to comment, according to the newspaper.

--With assistance from Jim Jia

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