Qatar marks one year since QNA hack

24 May 2018

Today marks exactly one year since the website of Qatar News Agency (QNA), which is the State  of Qatar news agency, was hacked.

In the early hours of 24th May 2017, fabricated quotes attributed to His Highness the Amir were posted on QNA’s website and on its Twitter feed. The Government Communications Office (GCO) immediately announced that QNA website has been hacked by an unknown entity.

The State of Qatar announced that an investigation would be put in place to look into this matter.

Just over a week later, on 5th June, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut all diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar, marking the beginning of the illegal blockade against Qatar.

The quartet used the fake comments as a pretext for the illegal blockade. Later that month, they made 13 “non-negotiable” demands on Qatar, which included closing Al Jazeera.

On 7th June, the Ministry of Interior issued a statement about the preliminary results of the State of Qatar’s investigation into the hack. It confirmed that a cyber-bug in the QNA website was exploited by hackers using highly advanced methods.

At the time, His Excellency Sheikh Saif bin Ahmed Al Thani, Director of the GCO, said:

“The hacking incident on the morning of 24th May was definitely a component of a well-coordinated smear campaign designed to damage the image and reputation of Qatar. And the smear campaign, in turn, set the stage for the blockade and the ultimatum that followed in June.”

“It was clearly part of an overall plan to lay the PR foundation for hostile and aggressive action against Qatar. But Qatar has resisted the pressure and intimidation, and is defending its sovereignty and independence.”

The State of Qatar maintains this position.