UAE minister denies any hacking of Qatar

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) was behind the hacking of Qatari websites in May to post incendiary false quotes, an incident that ultimately led to the Saudi-led boycott of Qatar, The Washington Post reported, citing USA intelligence officials it did not name. The hacked emails allegedly reveal the UAE's efforts over the years to sway U.S. policymakers to its side of the dispute against Qatar.

The UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, responds.

"The UAE had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking described in the article", the statement said.

The Post reported that USA intelligence officials learned last week of newly analyzed information that showed that top UAE government officials discussed the planned hacks on May 23, the day before they occurred.

The false reports said that the emir, among other things, had called Iran an "Islamic power" and praised Hamas.

The fake statements, which spoke favorably of Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as of relations with Israel, provoke the ire of a number of Gulf states as well as Egypt, and Qatar was effectively cut off from the Arabian Peninsula with a blockade.

However, Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE ambassador to the United States, has rubbished the report as false, claiming that the UAE had no role in the hacking of Qatar websites.

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"We need a regional solution and global monitoring", said Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, in prepared remarks he was scheduled to deliver on Monday in London, Reuters reported.

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.

The Guardian reported last month that an investigation by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had concluded that freelance Russian hackers were responsible. They pointed out that the decision was taken after the four states uncovered evidence about Qatar's sponsorship and funding of terrorist groups, which threaten the region's security and stability. Global allies such as the United States are anxious that the row could affect coalition counter-terrorism efforts against Isis.

"Tillerson's spokesperson has said that [Qatar-Gulf crisis negotiations] may be a long process to find any sort of common ground in resolving this conflict", said Zhou-Castro.

The officials told the Post they do not know whether the UAE had a direct hand in the hacks or whether they hired outside help. 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.

Yet the UAE would not escalate its boycott by asking companies to choose between doing business with it or with Qatar, he added.

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