The United Arab Emirates was not responsible for an alleged hack of Qatari websites which helped spark a month-long diplomatic rift with Doha, the UAE’s foreign minister said on Monday.
“The Washington Post story today that we actually hacked the Qataris is also not true,” Anwar Gargash, the UAE state minister for foreign affairs told the London-based think-tank Chatham House.
Asked about a Washington Post report citing US intelligence officials saying the UAE may have been behind the hack, Gargash said it was “purely not true”.
“This is our message: You cannot be part of a regional organization dedicated to strengthening mutual security and furthering mutual interest and at the same time undermine that security,” he said.
“You cannot be both our friend and a friend of al-Qaeda.”
Saudi Arabia and its allies imposed sanctions on Doha on June 5, including closing its only land border, denying Qatar access to their airspace and ordering their citizens back from the emirate.
“We’ve sent a message to Qatar. We’ve said we are not there to escalate. We are not after regime change. We are after a change of behavior,” Gargash said.
“We need to do that and when we do that, come back to the fold and we can work together,” he added.
Regarding the possibility of Qatar being excluded from the GCC, Gargash said: “The GCC is in crisis and I don’t think it serves our purposes to say let’s take Qatar out.”
“What we really do want is we either reach an agreement and Qatar’s behavior changes, or Qatar makes it own bed and they can move on and we can move with a new relationship. But we cannot have a member who is undermining us and supporting extremism,” he said.
The Qatari foreign ministry said in a statement neighboring countries have shown readiness to participate in the investigation of the alleged hacking of the Qatari state-owned Qatar News Agency (QNA) website, stressing that Qatar will take all means, measures and legal procedures necessary to prosecute perpetrators, Russia’s Sputnik reported.
Doha has continued to push with allegations on QNA hacking, but the publication of statements by the Emir of Qatar on more than one QNA-linked platform on social communication raises much doubt on the website’s security being compromised.
Many signs confirm the “Al Jazeera” justification story on QNA hacking is potentially false news.