Moscow: ‘Zero’ proof Russian hackers involved in Qatar crisis
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Moscow: ‘Zero’ proof Russian hackers involved in Qatar crisis

Kremlin adviser says Russians ‘tired of reacting to unsubstantiated banalities’ and premature conclusions

FBI Criminal Cyber, Response and Services Branch Executive Assistant Director Paul Abbate waits to speak during a press conference to announce criminal charges against four Russians for the 2014 hacking of Yahoo at the US Department of Justice on March 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. (AFP/Brendan Smialowski)
FBI Criminal Cyber, Response and Services Branch Executive Assistant Director Paul Abbate waits to speak during a press conference to announce criminal charges against four Russians for the 2014 hacking of Yahoo at the US Department of Justice on March 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. (AFP/Brendan Smialowski)

MOSCOW — Russia on Wednesday dismissed allegations that Russian hackers helped spark the diplomatic crisis around Qatar, after CNN reported that US officials believed they planted a false news story.

“We’re getting tired of reacting to unsubstantiated banalities,” Andrei Krutskikh, a Kremlin adviser on cyber security, told the Interfax news agency.

“Whatever happens it is hackers. It’s a stale claim and as ever there is zero evidence, and conclusions are drawn before the incident is even investigated,” he said.

CNN reported on Tuesday that US intelligence officials believe Russian hackers planted a false news story that led Saudi Arabia and several allies to sever relations with Qatar.

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani in Riyadh on May 21, 2017. (AFP/ MANDEL NGAN)
Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani in Riyadh on May 21, 2017. (AFP/Mandel Ngan)

FBI experts visited Qatar in late May to analyse an alleged cyber breach that saw the hackers place the fake story with Qatar’s state news agency, the US broadcaster said.

The report included comments from the emirate’s ruler which seemed friendly to Israel and Iran and cast doubt on how long US President Donald Trump would remain in office.

Saudi Arabia then cited the false item as part of its reason for instituting a diplomatic and economic blockade against Qatar, the report said.

Russian hackers are currently at the centre of international attention after allegations the Kremlin launched cyberattacks aimed at swaying the US presidential vote last year.

Moscow has repeatedly denied it was behind hacking attacks against the US and a raft of other alleged cyber breaches abroad.

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