UAE rejects accusations it hacked Qatari websites

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |  July 17, 2017 at 10:25 AM
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July 17 (UPI) -- The United Arab Emirates has rejected a report indicating it hacked Qatari government news and social media websites to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar's emir that generated regional turmoil.

The Washington Post on Sunday released a report citing U.S. intelligence officials that said the UAE orchestrated the hacking in late May that sparked ongoing turmoil between Qatar and its regional neighbors.

The Post report said U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed that senior members of the UAE government discussed the hacking plan and implementation on May 23. The anonymous U.S. officials told The Post that U.S. intelligence does not know if the UAE carried out hacks itself or contracted to have them carried out.

The false reports posted on the Qatari websites said that Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani called Iran an "Islamic power" and praised Hamas, the Palestinian militant and political organization, The Post reported.

Following the comments attributed to the emir, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt in early June froze diplomatic, economic and transportation ties with Qatar on accusations of supporting terrorist networks. The countries called on the nation, among other things, to downgrade its relations with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and close its al-Jazeera media outlet.

The UAE's ambassador to the United States, Yousef al-Otaiba, late Sunday said The Post "story is false."

"UAE had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking described in the article. What is true is Qatar's behavior. Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas & Qadafi. Qatar inciting violence, encouraging radicalization, and undermining the stability of its neighbors," the ambassador said in a statement.

Anwar Gargash, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, also said the accusation the UAE hacked Qatar was "purely not true."

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