Qatar News Agency
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History and profile
Qatar News Agency was established by a decree issued on 25 May 1975. It is attached to the Ministry of Information. The former parent ministry was the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The headquarters of the agency is in Doha.
By 1980, QNA signed collaborative agreements with the news agencies of Oman, the United Arab Emirates, France and Tunisia, in addition to opening a bureau in Tunis, the administrative center of the Arab League at that time.
May 2017 incident
On 24 May Qatar stated that the website was hacked by an unknown source and that fake stories on sensitive issues were published before the site went offline. Subsequently Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates blocked Qatari media, including broadcaster Al Jazeera. On 5 June Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain, and Maldives severed their relations with Qatar accusing it of supporting terrorism.
According to Qatar-based Al Jazeera, hackers posted fake remarks on the official Qatar News Agency attributed to the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, that expressed support for Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and Israel. The emir was quoted as saying: "Iran represents a regional and Islamic power that cannot be ignored and it is unwise to face up against it. It is a big power in the stabilization of the region." Qatar reported that the statements were false and did not know their origin. Despite this, the remarks were widely publicized in the various Arab news media, including UAE-based Sky News Arabia and Al Arabiya. On 3 June 2017, the Twitter account of Bahraini foreign minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa was hacked.
Initially alleged Intelligence gathered by the US security agencies indicated that Russian hackers were behind the intrusion first reported by the Qataris. However, a U.S. official briefed on the inquiry told The New York Times that it "was unclear whether the hackers were state-sponsored" and The Guardian diplomatic editor Patrick Wintour reported that "It is believed that the Russian government was not involved in the hacks; instead, freelance hackers were paid to undertake the work on behalf of some other state or individual." A U.S. diplomat said that Russia and its ally Iran stood to benefit from sowing discord among U.S. allies in the region, "particularly if they made it more difficult for the United States to use Qatar as a major base." The FBI sent a team of investigators to Doha to help the Qatari government investigate the hacking incident. Later New York Times reported that the hacking incidents may be part of long running cyberwar between Qatar and other Gulf countries that was only revealed to the public during the recent incidents and they noted how Saudi and UAE media picked up the statement made by the hacked media in less than 20 minutes and began interviewing many well-prepared commentators against Qatar.
On 16 July, The Washington Post revealed that US intelligence officials pin-pointed the hack as being carried out by the UAE. The intelligence officials stated that the hacking was discussed among Emirati officials on 23 May, one day before the operation took place. The UAE denied any involvement in the hacking. It was announced on 26 August 2017 that five individuals allegedly involved in the hacking were arrested in Turkey.
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- Evan Perez & Shimon Prokupecz, US suspects Russian hackers planted fake news behind Qatar crisis, CNN (6 June 2017).
- Patrick Wintour, Russian hackers to blame for sparking Qatar crisis, FBI inquiry finds (7 June 2017).
- Mark Landler, Trump Takes Credit for Saudi Move Against Qatar, a U.S. Military Partner, New York Times (6 June 2017).
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- "Qatar says five suspects in news agency hacking detained in Turkey". Reuters. 26 August 2017. Retrieved 27 August 2017.