QNA website hacking: Qatar still on damage control

QNA website hacking: Qatar still on damage control

Qatar launched an investigation and went into damage control mode on Wednesday after accusing hackers of putting what it called false remarks by the emir on state media.

The four-hour cyber attack, which hit the Qatar News Agency's website and Twitter account, caused ripples in the Gulf state and across the Middle East because of the content of the stories.

Among the topics supposedly addressed by Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani were the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, strategic relations with Iran, and comments about Palestinian movement Hamas.

There were also remarks about alleged “tensions” between Qatar and the administration of US President Donald Trump.

The Twitter account carried a statement from Foreign Mnister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani about Qatar withdrawing its ambassadors from several nearby countries.

His ministry denied the story.

Qatar said what occurred was a “shameful cybercrime” and that the reports were completely untrue. It added an investigation had been launched and the hackers would be “traced and prosecuted”.

“QNA's website was hacked at 12:14am on Wednesday morning, with hackers publishing false statements attributed to HH the Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani,” said the foreign ministry.

“The official further said that it is clear this shameful cybercrime was instigated and perpetrated with malicious intent,” it said in a statement.

But it was unable to contain the fallout, with media outlets taking seriously the remarks attributed to the emir and attacks on social media accounts continuing.

The “false statement” was still being widely reported by broadcasters and newspapers across the region, including in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, many hours after Doha's denial.