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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

UAE questions Washington Post reporting after new Qatar claims

Newspaper quoted US officials accusing the UAE of hacking QNA but Doha now says otherwise

Anwar Gargash questioned on Monday past reporting by the Washington Post that accused the Emirates of carrying out the operation. Neil Hall/Reuters
Anwar Gargash questioned on Monday past reporting by the Washington Post that accused the Emirates of carrying out the operation. Neil Hall/Reuters

In light of new claims on the reported hacking of the Qatari News Agency (QNA), UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash on Monday questioned reporting by The Washington Post that accused the Emirates of carrying out the operation.

Dr Gargash, speaking on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Qatar boycott, cast more doubt on a story published by the newspaper last July. He tweeted:

“The WP [Washington Post] ran a story a few months ago accusing the UAE of the Qatar hack based on anonymous intelligence sources. Now that Al Jazeera has changed the Qatari story will we hear from the Post?”, the UAE senior official wrote.

Last summer the paper, quoting US intelligence officials, ran a headline that claimed the “UAE orchestrated hacking of Qatari government sites, sparking regional upheaval”. US officials then told the newspaper that the UAE carried out the hacking “of Qatari government news and social media sites in order to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani”. The alleged hacking was claimed to have taken place on May 24. Then, statements attributed to the Qatari emir appearing on QNA and through its social media account enraged Doha’s neighbours, triggering the crisis.

But in a surprising turn, the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera over the weekend accused Saudi Arabia of carrying out the hack. Al Jazeera tweeted on Saturday:

“Breaking, Al Jazeera investigation: The cell that hacked QNA worked from a sovereign ministry in Saudi capital Riyadh.”

Al Jazeera’s report alleged that evidence was obtained that proved the Saudi cell infiltrated QNA and ran the pro-Iran and pro Hamas statements.

Contacted by The National, a representative of The Washington Post said the paper stands by its reporting. The UAE’s ambassador to the United States Yousef Al Otaiba said last year that his country “had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking described in the [Washington Post] article.”

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