UAE minister denies any hacking of Qatar
LONDON — The United Arab Emirates was not responsible for an alleged hack of Qatari websites which helped spark a monthlong diplomatic rift with Doha, the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs said on Monday.
Anwar Gargash denied as false a Sunday report by 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 Emirati embassy in Washington also released a statement, calling the Post report “false” and insisting that the UAE “had no role whatsoever” in the alleged hacking.
“What is true is Qatar’s behavior. Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas ... Inciting violence, encouraging radicalization, and undermining the stability of its neighbors,” the statement said.
The report quotes unnamed intelligence officials of the United States as saying that senior members of the UAE government discussed the plan on May 23.
On the following day, a story appeared on the Qatari News Agency’s website quot- ing a speech by Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, in which he allegedly praised Iran and said Qatar has a good relationship with Israel. Similarly incendiary statements appeared on the news agency’s Twitter feed.
The agency quickly claimed it was hacked and removed the article. But Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt all blocked Qatari media and later severed diplomatic ties.
The US State Department declined to comment. The FBI was previously known to be working with Qatar to probe the hacking.
The crisis has threatened to complicate the US-led coali- tion’s fight against the Islamic State group as all participants are US allies and members of the anti-IS coalition. Qatar is home to 10,000 US troops.
US President Donald Trump has sided strongly with Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the dispute, publicly backing their contention that Doha is a supporter of extremist groups and a destabilizing force in the Middle East.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson concluded several days of shuttle diplomacy in the Gulf last week, but he departed the region without any public signs of a resolution.