UAE said to be behind hacking of Qatari websites

We need international monitoring on Qatar: Gargash

Anwar Gargash, UAE state minister for foreign affairs, said on Monday that a report in the Washington Post newspaper suggesting that the United Arab Emirates arranged for the hacking, is "not true".

USA intelligence agencies were able to confirm to officials that senior members of the UAE government had discussed a plan to breach the government-run websites in May, the Post said. Previously, US media, citing the Federal Bureau of Investigation, blamed the attack on "Russian hackers".

Qatar has maintained its emir never made the remarks and that the quotes were planted by hackers. The objective of the hacking was to embed false news stories of an incendiary nature that led to the current Gulf crisis.

Qatar's antagonists accuse it of supporting terrorism and giving a home to extremists inciting violence and radicalisation. Qatar vehemently denies all the allegations against it.

It was not clear whether the UAE hacked the Qatari sites itself or paid another entity to do so, the Post added.

"Perhaps this will finally result in some movement".

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While US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson flew to the region last week in an effort to bring the parties to the negotiating table, a State Department spokesperson did not predict any breakthrough in the near future.

Qatar is home to the USA military's largest air base in the region, Al Udeid, with over 11,000 U.S. troops stationed there.

The authenticity of the report is also questioned when readers know that the report only repeated rumours originally published by the Al Jazeerah television station and its offshot media outlets, funded by Qatar.

Gargash said the four Arab powers were in the process of discussing additional sanctions on Doha.

Khalil Jahshan, executive director at the Arab Center Washington, DC, told Al Jazeera the revelations are the most important development so far since the beginning of the crisis and undermined the Emirati position.

The hacks and posting took place on May 24, shortly after President Trump completed a lengthy counterterrorism meeting with Persian Gulf leaders in neighboring Saudi Arabia and declared them unified. Staunchly defending its innocence against the allegations from the onset of the crisis, Qatar claimed the demands were deliberately created to be impossible for it to meet and rejected them, causing the current stalemate in negotiations.

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