WASHINGTON, July 17 (Xinhua) -- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites in May that later triggered a diplomatic crisis between Qatar and its neighbors, according to The Washington Post.
Citing U.S. intelligence officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, the report said that U.S. officials learned last week that on May 23, senior UAE officials discussed the plan and its implementation.
The hacks of Qatari websites and posting which took place on May 24 said that Qatar's emir, among other things, had called Iran an "Islamic power" and praised Hamas, according to the report.
Since then, Qatar has insisted that its emir had never made the remarks and that the quotes were posted by hackers.
In response to the posting, however, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5 and cut off sea, land and air links to the tiny rich Gulf nation, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism, interfering in their internal affairs and seeking closer ties with Iran, a Saudi rival.
According to the Post, U.S. intelligence officials said that it remained unclear whether the UAE carried out the hacking or paid others to have it done.
A statement by the Qatar government said that it believed the Post report to be true, while the UAE denied the allegations.
"The @washingtonpost story is false. UAE had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking described in the article," the UAE embassy in Washington tweeted, citing its ambassador to the United States Yousef al-Otaiba as saying.