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Qatar Accuses Gulf Neighbours Of Hacking Attack Blamed On Russia

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Qatar Accuses Gulf Neighbours Of Hacking Attack Blamed On Russia

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani has strenuously denied that Russia was behind the cybersecurity breach on a state-run Qatari news website.

Al Thani told CBS News that the FBI has completed its probe of the hack and made Qatar aware that Russia was not behind the hack, having previously investigated and found the European state to be the location of the hacker.

"The information we have -- it is not a Russian hacker," Al Thani said on Tuesday.

In May, hackers broke into the website of the news agency and published a fake story quoting the ruling Emir making controversial comments. The story prompted Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to boycott Qatari media, including broadcaster Al-Jazeera.

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Credit: Janson Chua/creative commons

In the fake story, published by the hackers, Qatar's Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani was quoted as cautioning against confrontation with Iran, calling it an "Islamic power".

He was also quoted as defending the Palestinian group Hamas and Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shi'ite Muslim movement allied with Tehran and as questioning whether US President Donald Trump would last in office.

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"The Ministry said the investigation team confirmed that the piracy process had used high techniques and innovative methods by exploiting an electronic gap on the website of the Qatar News Agency," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen are all involved in the resulting Saudi-led boycott of Qatar.

CBS News reported that the Qatari foreign minister had accused some of the states involved in the boycott of being behind the cyber-attack and that Qatar is in the process of building a legal case against the countries involved.

"We have some leads that there are some countries involved, part of them -- they are part of the countries that will impose this blockade against Qatar," Al Thani told CBS News.

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He said that these countries had spent a long time "fabricating news and lies against Qatar, trying to undermine and denounce Qatar" as well as accusing the country of supporting terrorists in a bid to play on western sympathies.

Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, offered support to Qatar. He said that the sanctions were not the right way to deal with the situation.

"I want to clearly say that we disapprove of the sanctions on Qatar," Erdoğan said at a Ramadan breakfast event. "These developments, coming at a time when we need solidarity and cooperation more than ever, are no good for any country in the region."

Featured Image Credit: PA Images

Topics: FBI

Claire Reid
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