Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Dubai — 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 US intelligence officials it did not name.

Senior UAE officials discussed the plan on May 23, according to newly analysed information collected by US intelligence agencies, the report said. Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE ambassador to Washington, said in a statement that his country "had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking", describing the article as "false", the Post said.

The hacking took place shortly after US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia. The remarks posted on Qatari government news websites criticised attempts to isolate Iran. Qatari government spokesperson Sheikh Saif Bin Ahmed Al-Thani said at the time the postings were false and the result of a hack by an "unknown entity".

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and transport links with Qatar on June 5, accusing Doha of supporting Sunni extremists and Iranian-backed Shiite militants, charges Qatar has repeatedly denied.

It was unclear whether the UAE carried out the hacks itself or had contracted to have them done, the Post said. The US Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) declined to comment, according to the newspaper.

Bloomberg

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