Qatar marks second anniversary of news agency hacking

Qatar marks second anniversary of news agency hacking, which sparked blockade
2 min read
27 May, 2019
Qatar has marked the second anniversary of the hacking of its news agency's website. False news published by the hackers was used to justify a blockade of the Gulf nation.
A cyber-attack on the Qatar News Agency was used to justify an ongoing blockade [Getty]

Qatar marked the second anniversary of the hacking of its news agency over the weekend with officials tweeting their thoughts on how this event has poisoned relations in the Gulf region since then.

On 24 May 2017, the website of the Qatar News Agency (QNA) was hacked and fake stories were published relating to Iran, Hamas, Hizballah, and Israel. False statements regarding Qatar's relationship with these entities were attributed to the Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

Despite Qatar's insistence that these stories were fake, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt used them as a pretext to sever relations with Doha and impose a blockade on the Gulf nation that has been in place ever since.

An investigation by the Al-Jazeera News Network found that a state-sponsored Saudi cell was responsible for the hack of the news agency and the UAE was linked to the event.

Soon after the hack, the false news attributed to QNA was broadcast on the UAE-based channels Al-Arabiya and Sky News Arabia with an array of guests lined up to comment.

In a tweet, Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir Tamim's brother, said that the anniversary of the hacking was an opportunity to "satirise betrayal" and "consider the nature of devilish thinking", saying that the hack "started a fire" in the Gulf region which some people were still  trying to stoke.

Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman tweeted that the hacking of QNA was a "stab in the back" for the entire Qatari people, used to justify the ongoing blockade of Qatar and to "put the peoples of the Gulf nations in an unenviable state of fragmentation".

The Qatari newspaper Al-Sharq however, commented that Qatar is today "stronger and more cohesive socially and economically" than before the blockade.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE's blockade of Qatar has largely failed to have an impact on the Qatari economy and Doha's relations with the wider world.

Read more: Saudi Arabia invites Qatar to talks over Iran tensions