Arab states call for World Cup boycott of Qatar

Declan Walsh

It said in a statement Monday that the Post report "unequivocally proves that this hacking crime took place".

The United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of a Qatari government news site in May, planting a false story that was used as a pretext for the current crisis between Qatar and several Arab countries, according to a Sunday report by The Washington Post.

US intelligence agencies confirmed in May that the UAE government discussed a plan to breach Qatar government websites, according to the Post.

The officials said it was unclear if the UAE hacked the websites or paid for it to be carried out, the newspaper reported.

On Sunday, The Washington Post cited anonymous USA intelligence officials who claim to have evidence that UAE leaders were behind the breach which occurred at the end of May.

"We are heading toward a long estrangement", UAE Minister of State for Foreign Relations Anwar al-Gargash wrote on Twitter. Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas and Gadhafi.

He said: "The Washington Post story is not true". The official representative of the Qatari Foreign Ministry said that the agency's site was hacked, the speech was published by hackers and has nothing to do with the country's leader. "Inciting violence, encouraging radicalization, and undermining the stability of its neighbors", he said in the statement.

A source familiar with the Qatari government's World Cup activities said Qatar is aware the Saudis and others are engaged in such a move but understands Qatar has not yet received the letter. In a statement denying the Post's reports, ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba pointed again to Qatar's apparent support of terrorists.

Qatar hosts al-Udeid Air Base, the largest US military installation in the Middle East and hub for USA -led operations against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

The US has its largest regional military base in Qatar, which has been key to the Washington-led war against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

Citing the Emir's reported comments, the Saudis, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt immediately banned all Qatari media.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar are among the world's biggest military spenders, purchasing billions of dollars in equipment from the US and Europe to beef up their militaries.

But, he added, the four states would not escalate the boycott by asking companies to choose between doing business with them or with Qatar.

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