June 20, 2017 / 7:55 PM / in a month

Qatar says news agency hacking linked to states boycotting Doha

2 Min Read

A sign indicating a route to Qatar embassy is seen in Manama, Bahrain, June 5, 2017.Hamad I Mohammed

DOHA (Reuters) - Qatar's attorney general said on Tuesday his country has evidence that the hacking of Qatar's state news agency was linked to countries that have severed ties with Doha.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates cut their ties with Doha earlier this month over comments alleged to have been made by the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and posted briefly on the Qatar News Agency's website on May 23 which Doha said had been hacked.

The comments quoted Sheikh Tamim as cautioning against confrontation with Iran and defending the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shi'ite movement allied with Tehran.

U.S. and European officials have said that while U.S government agencies and experts were convinced that the news agency and the Qatari government's Twitter feed were hacked, they have not yet determined who did the hacking.

"Qatar has evidence that certain iPhones originating from countries laying siege to Qatar were used in the hack," the Qatari Attorney General Ali Bin Fetais al-Marri told reporters in Doha.

Marri said it was too early to explicitly name the countries responsible for the hacking and declined to comment when he was asked if individuals or states were behind it.

Arab countries at odds with Qatar accuse it of supporting militant groups and advancing the agenda of their arch-rival Iran in the region - charges Doha calls baseless.

Marri also said that a list of individuals and entities designated by the Arab countries as terrorists was "baseless," adding that Doha would legally pursue those who had done harm to the Gulf Arab state.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain on June 8 named 59 people, including Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yousef al-Qaradawi, and 12 entities, among them Qatari-funded charities Qatar Charity and Eid Charity, as terrorist.

Reporting by Tom Arnold, Writing by Aziz El Yaakoubi; editing by Sami Aboudi and Richard Balmforth

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