Qatar said Wednesday its official state news agency had been hacked by an “unknown entity,” and subsequently carried false remarks attributed to the country’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, including a statement that his country’s relations with Israel were “good.”
“The Qatar News Agency website has been hacked by an unknown entity,” reported the Government Communications Office in a statement.
“A false statement attributed to His Highness has been published,” it said, adding that an investigation would be launched into the security breach.
The statement attributed to the emir focused on sensitive regional political issues with other nations in the region, including Iran and Israel, and also Doha’s relationship with new US President Donald Trump.
The remarks posted on QNA as a result of the alleged hack were picked up and reported by broadcasters in the region, including some in the United Arab Emirates.
According to translations in the Hebrew-language press, the emir was quoted telling the Saudi-based al-Arabiya that Qatar’s ties to Israel were “good” and that he hoped to play a part in brokering a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians. He also made positive statements about Hamas, considered a terror group by Israel and the US, calling it the “official representative of Palestinians.”
Qatar is home to former Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal, who has lived in exile for several years, previously in Syria.
Al-Arabiya also reported that al-Thani said “there is no wisdom in harboring hostility towards Iran,” and that relations with the US under the Trump administration were tense.
Al-Thani met with Trump last week when the US leader was in Riyadh on the first leg of his first foreign trip.
The remarks caused a stir on social media in the Gulf, before Doha scrambled in the early hours of Wednesday morning to deny the claims.
The communications office added that the “State of Qatar will hold all those” who committed the breach accountable.