Qatar says its "neighbouring countries" are linked to an alleged cyberattack on its state news agency that triggered the ongoing Gulf diplomatic crisis. Qatar's Attorney General Ali Bin Fetais al-Marri said on Tuesday (20 June) that the country has evidence that certain iPhones originating from countries that have since severed ties with Doha have been linked to the Qatar News Agency hack.
In May, Qatar claimed its news agency was hacked by an unknown entity and briefly published a "false statement" attributed to the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. While Qatar immediately denied the remarks attributed to the ruling emir, the alleged hack resulted in the current crisis in the region.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain decided to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar following the controversy and accused Qatar of supporting militant groups, terrorism and their regional rival Iran. Doha has vehemently dismissed these claims as baseless.
The Arab countries also blocked access to a number of news websites including Al Jazeera and Huffington Post Arabic.
"Qatar has evidence that certain iPhones originating from countries laying siege to Qatar were used in the hack," al-Marri told reporters in Doha, AFP reports."We have enough evidence to point the finger of blame at these countries."
He did not name the countries responsible for the cyberattack and declined to comment on whether individuals or states were behind the hacking.
However, Al-Marri said he would be able to provide specific phone numbers of the alleged perpetrators of the hack "very soon". He added that Qatari investigators have traced internet service providers used to these countries.
"We have sent the information to the countries concerned and we are awaiting their response," he added. "As far as we are concerned the case is very clear."
The FBI and Britain's National Crime Agency (NCA) deployed officials to work with Qatar to investigate the QNA hack. US officials concluded that the news agency was hacked, but did not determine who was responsible for the attack.
Citing anonymous US officials briefed on the investigation, CNN reported that Russian hackers breached Qatar's news agency and planted the fake news report that sparked the crisis with its Gulf allies. The Kremlin denied any involvement in the hacking.