U.S. spies accuse UAE of hacking Qatari government websites


They then broke relations with Qatar and declared a trade and diplomatic boycott, sending the region into a political and diplomatic tailspin that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has warned could undermine US counterterrorism efforts against the Islamic State.

One day before Trump's tweets, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson encouraged "the parties to sit down and address these differences", in a speech in Australia.

The United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of a Qatari government news site in May, planting a false story that was used as a pretext for the current crisis between Qatar and several Arab countries, according to a Sunday report by The Washington Post. The officials said it remains unclear whether the UAE carried out the hacks itself or contracted to have them done.

The Emirates denied the report.

The Washington Post newspaper is reporting that new intelligence reveals the UAE government meeting to discuss the hacking plot and its execution on 23 May. That came after Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, was quoted online calling Iran - a key rival to Saudi Arabia - an Islamic power and describing Qatari relations with Israel as good.

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Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed sanctions on Qatar on June 5, cutting diplomatic and transport ties with the tiny Gulf monarchy, after accusing it of financing militant groups and allying with their regional arch-foe Iran.

The Post's story cited United States intelligence sources who said they had new information implicating UAE officials in the attacks on the Qatari government's news sites and social media. Such statements are at odds with the prevailing sentiment in the Gulf.

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. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shuttled around the region last week, but but returned home without a breakthrough.

Read: What is the Qatar crisis about? It continued: "What is true is Qatar's behaviour".

Gargash refused to give details of any further punitive measures being planned beyond saying that financial institutions and "people being harbored and supported by Qatar" might be targeted. Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas and Qadafi. "Inciting violence, encouraging radicalization, and undermining the stability of its neighbors", the statement said.