DUBAI: The UAE’s Ambassador to Washington Yousef Al-Otaiba has denied a report by The Washington Post that claims some US officials believe the country “orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites in order to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir” in late May.
The UAE’s embassy in Washington responded to the article in a series of tweets posted early Monday morning, saying that “the @washingtonpost story is false. UAE had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking described in the article” in comments attributed to the ambassador.
Amb. Yousef Al Otaiba: "The @washingtonpost story is false. UAE had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking described in the article".— UAE Embassy US (@UAEEmbassyUS) July 17, 2017
The Washington Post report, published on Sunday, alleges that US “officials became aware last week that newly analyzed information gathered by US intelligence agencies confirmed that on May 23, senior members of the UAE government discussed the plan and its implementation. The officials said it remains unclear whether the UAE carried out the hacks itself or contracted to have them done.”
However, the UAE’s embassy has denied the report, with Al-Otaiba instead stating that “What is true is #Qatar’s behavior. Funding, supporting and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas & Qaddafi... Inciting violence, encouraging radicalization and undermining the stability of its neighbors.”
(1/2) Amb. Al Otaiba:"What is true is #Qatar’s behavior. Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas & Qadafi"— UAE Embassy US (@UAEEmbassyUS) July 17, 2017
(2/2) Amb. Al Otaiba:"[#Qatar] Inciting violence, encouraging radicalization, and undermining the stability of its neighbors".— UAE Embassy US (@UAEEmbassyUS) July 17, 2017
Oubai Shahbandar, a Syrian-American analyst and fellow at the New America Foundation’s International Security Program, told Arab News: “These allegations are just that: Allegations. Moreover, The Washington Post article is thinly sourced with no credible solid evidence presented to back up the accusation. Meanwhile, the Western media seems to have conveniently forgotten about the deliberate hacking that targeted the ambassador as part of an effort clearly itended to benefit the Qatari government.”
Qatar, meanwhile, said: "The information published in The Washington Post ... revealed the involvement of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and senior Emirati officials in the hacking of Qatar News Agency."
In a statement on Monday, the Qatari government communication office said the report "unequivocally proves that this hacking crime took place."
Despite The Washington Post’s article, it was recently reported that Russian hackers were thought to be behind the purported breach of Qatar’s state news agency.
CNN reported in June that “US investigators believe Russian hackers breached Qatar’s state news agency and planted a fake news report that contributed to a crisis among the US’ closest Gulf allies.”
Qatar claims that a report released by a state-run news agency in May, in which Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani was said to have made incendiary comments regarding the GCC, was the result of a hack.
The report sparked a diplomatic row in the region, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE leading a host of nations in cutting ties with Qatar.