Qatar will address the media campaign targeting it, against the backdrop of the hacking of Qatar News Agency's (QNA) website and attributing false statements to HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, HE the Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said.
“It is clear that there is a media campaign targeting the State of Qatar and we will definitely address it,” HE the Foreign Minister said during a joint press conference held in Doha with the Somali Foreign Minister Yussef Jarad Omar Ahmed.
“In the past five weeks we were surprised by the publication of 13 opinion articles on Qatar by different writers in the United States,” HE the Foreign Minister said.
On the same day of the cyber attack on QNA's website, a conference on Qatar was held in the US “to which we were not invited, but all those who wrote these articles against Qatar were present”, he said. "On the same night the cyber attack occurred," he said wondering whether it was a coincidence or not.
The hacking of QNA's website and attributing false statements to HH the Emir is without doubt a cyber crime, he said, adding that Qatar would not rush to declare the results until the investigation was over.
On Qatar's relationship with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, HE the Foreign Minister said Doha has always maintained strong and fraternal relations with them because “it strongly believes that GCC countries should be one entity”.
He pointed out that what was happening today had nothing to do with the "misunderstanding" that occurred between Qatar and some of the GCC countries in 2014, referring in this regard to Qatar's fruitful participation in the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh and the ongoing distinguished and fruitful relations. “If there is something different that we do not know about, that's something else.”
In this context, HE the Foreign Minister stressed Qatar's keenness on maintaining good relations with the GCC countries.
The region's current circumstances require concerted efforts of the GCC member states, he said.
HE Sheikh Mohammed described the hacking of QNA's official website as a cyber crime, stressing that it was a crime punishable by law.
The cyber attack targeting QNA's websites was intended to broadcast alleged statements attributed to HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, he said.
An investigation team is conducting a full criminal investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice, he said, noting that the findings of the investigation would be revealed in a transparent manner.
HE the Foreign Minister expressed his surprise over the attitude of some of the media which adopted these false statements, despite the issuance of clear statements of denial by QNA , warning that what was going on at these media reflected their low level of professionalism.
“What has been seen from the GCC public opinion in particular confirms a full awareness that rises far above the level of these media,” he said.
On the issue of cyber security in Qatar, HE Sheikh Mohammed said the electronic security system and firewalls in the country were of the highest standards and were strong and solid, adding that all state agencies used the latest technology and cooperated with each other under the government umbrella.
"Cyber attacks and hacking operations are inherently sophisticated while security systems are not necessary able to keep pace with the fast development of cyber attacks," HE the Minister commented.
"Qatar will take a number of additional steps to strengthen its electronic security system," he said, reiterating that the firewalls and means of protection in all sectors of the state were at the highest level and very difficult to be hacked.
On the measures and steps taken by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the false statements attributed to HH the Emir, HE the Foreign Minister explained that what happened was a cyber attack on QNA's website following which explanations from the Government Communications Office and QNA were immediately issued, followed by a clarification from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Contacts with the brothers in the GCC Member States are ongoing and never stop,” HE the Foreign Minister said, noting that there was no contact on the issue of the cyber attack because there was a clear picture of what had happened.
He pointed out that what had been discussed in some media outlets was a matter for these outlets and “we did not receive it from official channels”.
With regard to who is behind the hacking of QNA's website, the Foreign Minister said that there was no evidence at this time whether the attack was from outside or inside Qatar.
He stressed that once the facts of the case and the evidence were collected, Qatar would do what it deemed appropriate in this regard.
“If this cyber attack was committed in the country it shall be considered as a cyber crime and the perpetrators shall be prosecuted according to the law.”
In response to a question on Qatari-US relations, HE the Foreign Minster stressed that bilateral relations have been and remain strong and strategic and that the US administration highly appreciated this relationship, referring in this regard to the talks held by HH the Emir with US President Donald Trump in Riyadh, during which the president stressed the role being played by Qatar in combating terrorism and describing Qatar as a partner in this prospect.
The Al Udeid Military Base in Qatar is governed by an agreement between Qatar and the United States of America, HE the Foreign Minister said, noting in case of the occurrence of anything related to this matter, it will be subject to the terms of the agreement.
In response to a question on Qatar's relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Foreign Minister explained that such matters were not raised at the official level because there was no evidence that Qatar had a relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt or Tunisia, noting that this issue was only raised by media channels. “Qatar has always clearly stated that it is not concerned with political parties and that it deals with governments.
“When the Muslim Brotherhood was in power, cooperation with them has continued both in Tunisia or Egypt, because they represented the legitimate government,” HE the Foreign Minister said, noting that once they were out of power cooperation took place with elected governments.
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