Qatar official state news agency hacked, sensitive articles published

Qatar official state news agency hacked, sensitive articles published

Cheryl Sanders
May 24, 2017

Qatar's state-run news agency has been targeted by hackers who used their access to publishing platforms to distribute controversial statements falsely attributed to the Gulf state's monarch.

The hackers purportedly published what Qatari authorities described as a fake article claiming the small, gas-rich nation had ordered its ambassadors from Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates withdrawn over "tension" with the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

A statement from Doha issued on Wednesday said that the Qatar News Agency website was hacked by an "unknown entity" and that "A false statement attributed to His Highness has been published".

Saudi Arabia's Okaz newspaper accused Qatar of "breaking ranks" and choosing to "side with the enemies of the nation", while the website of the Doha-based Al Jazeera network was blocked in the United Arab Emirates.

The Qatar News Agency (QNA) website has been hacked by an unknown entity, according to the Government Communications Office.

The alleged hack reflects the tensions and suspicions still running deep between Qatar, whose conservative rulers have strong ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, and the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which have outlawed the group.

The emir was quoted as saying that there was "no wisdom in harbouring hostility toward Iran" and that it was a "big power in the stabilisation of the region". He also made positive statements about Hamas, considered a terror group by Israel and the USA, calling it the "official representative of Palestinians".

The Qatari state television's nightly newscast on Tuesday showed clips of Sheikh Tamim at the ceremony with the anchor not mentioning the comments, though a scrolling ticker at the bottom of the screen had the alleged fake remarks. The tweets were later deleted.

The communication office said an investigation has been launched into the incident and those responsible will be held accountable.

A government spokesman told Reuters the Emir had attended a graduation ceremony for Qataris doing national service, "however, he did not make any speech or give any statements".

At the same time, Doha-based broadcaster Al-Jazeera was unavailable for some time in the UAE, though it was not clear if it was blocked on goal.

Al-Jazeera English's website was briefly inaccessible, though internet users could reach it later Wednesday morning. Attempts to reach its website brought up a warning from the UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority saying the site "contains content that is prohibited".

Other reports by iNewsToday