Alleged UAE hacking 'unfortunate,' violation of law

Gargash said the memorandum of understanding signed by the United States and Qatar on Tuesday on the financing of terrorism was a positive development. "You will see in the next few days the story will die".

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 emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, had been quoted in May as praising Hamas and saying that Iran was an "Islamic power", the Post reported. Qatar claimed their sites had been hacked, but the false report became the pretext to start the Saudi-led campaign.

The four Arab states accuse Qatar of ties to Iran and of funding Islamist extremist groups. The boycott has caused turmoil in the oil- and gas-rich emirate, which is dependent on imports by land and sea for the basic needs of its population of 2.7 million.

The article said officials became aware last week that newly analyzed information gathered by USA intelligence agencies suggested that senior members of the UAE government discussed the plan and its implementation.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was previously known to be working with Qatar to probe the hacking.

With a small but vociferous band of protesters banging on the doors outside, the minister calmly explained the crisis had moved on to a new stage - one that could be prolonged as the quartet of nations holds firm on their demands for Qatar to stop support for extremists.

According to the Washington Post, the UAE had arranged hacking of Qatar's news and social media channels with fiery posts and false statements to discredit the former's emir in May.

But its Gulf Arab neighbours and Egypt have always been irked by its support for anti-establishment movements and for the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood that briefly won power in Egypt, which they regard as a political enemy. "You can not be both our friend and the friend of Al Qaeda".

Mr Gargash told the BBC that Qatar's denial had been contradicted by its agreement to review a list of 59 individuals and 12 organisations who the UAE has accused of supporting terrorism and wants arrested or expelled. His visit had yielded little except for a bilateral agreement between the United States and Qatar to fight "terrorism".

Last month, the bloc issued a 13-point ultimatum to Qatar, which included demands to close a Turkish military base, shuttering Al Jazeera media network, and ending relations with Iran.

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