UAE behind hacking of Qatari media

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The states later imposed trade sanctions and severed diplomatic ties with Doha, a move that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said could undermine USA counterterrorism efforts against the Islamic State.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, on the other hand, conducted several days of shuttle diplomacy in an attempt to bridge ties between Qatar and its neighbors.

The United Arab Emirates reportedly hacked and planted a fake news story to Qatari social media sites and government news outlets in May, causing a diplomatic crisis in the region, according to a report from the Washington Post quoting us intelligence officials. It is still unclear if the USA believes the UAE carried out the hack or hired another country to do it.

The Washington Post did not identify the intelligence officials it spoke to for the report.

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The Emirates denied the report.

Qatar's neighbours, led by UAE and Saudi Arabia, but also including Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen, Senegal and Mauritania, used the reports as a casus belli to ostracise Qatar diplomatically in a bid to force it to close the al Jazeera television news network amid claims that the emirate was a regional supporter of terrorist organisations.

But according to United States intelligence agencies, in a report leaked to the Washington Post, the hack was planned by UAE government officials, although it is unclear whether UAE government agencies carried out the cyber attacks or contracted a third-party to do it for them to keep it at arms length.

The hacking of Qatari media services in May saw the tiny Gulf state's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, quoted as praising Hamas and describing Iran as an "Islamic power". Such statements are at odds with the prevailing sentiment in the Gulf.

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But Qatar said that the Washington Post report proved its version of events, that its websites were hacked and that quotes were fabricated and published.

Qatar has been subjected to a diplomatic and economic blockade that the USA government says could compromised U.S. efforts against so-called Islamic State.

Read: What is the Qatar crisis about? "We either reach an agreement and Qatar's behaviour changes, or Qatar makes its own bed and they can move on and we can move with a new relationship".

They say Qatar has supported many radical groups.

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Qatar's antagonists accuse it of supporting terrorism and giving a home to extremists inciting violence and radicalisation.

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