Middle East

Hackers 'to leak' emails of UAE ambassador to US

Hackers say they will release a trove of documents from Yousef al-Otaiba's inbox to US media, Daily Beast reports.

The hackers said they plan to publish the material themselves on Saturday [File: Kacper Pempel/Reuters]

A computer hacking group that calls itself "GlobalLeaks" has reportedly said it plans to release emails taken from the inbox of Yousef al-Otaiba, the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the United States. [Note: Global Leaks is not to be confused with the Milan-based software company GlobaLeaks.]

The Daily Beast reported on Friday that it had been approached by the hackers, who offered a sample of the emails they said demonstrated "how a small rich country/company used lobbyists to hurt American interests and those of it allies". 

The group said the leaks "reveal how millions of dollars were used to hurt [the] reputation of American allies and cause policy changes". 

The leakers said they plan to publish the material themselves on Saturday, the report said.

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According to the Daily Beast, the hackers said the documents had been provided to them by a paid whistle-blower in a Washington, DC lobbying group and contained emails from Otaiba's Hotmail account.

It also said the sample provided included several emails between Otaiba and Robert Gates, former US defence secretary in the administrations of George Bush and Barack Obama.  

Otaiba is well-known figure in US national security circles - he has been called "the most charming man in Washington" - and has participated in Pentagon strategy meetings at the invitation of the defence officials.

Khalil Jahshan, executive director of the Arab Center in Washington, DC, said depending on the substance of the emails, the leak could prove to be "very embarrassing" for the UAE, "particularly if it … reveals any new information pertaining to the source of the hacking that took pace at Qatar News Agency (QNA)".

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The news of the potential leak comes as the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is believed to be helping Qatar investigate the source of a cyberattack that has led to diplomatic tension among Arab Gulf countries.

An FBI team has been in Doha for the past week after the Qatari government asked the US for help following a security breach by hackers last month who posted fake remarks on its QNA official media platform.

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Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies