US team said to be in Doha at official request after diplomatic tension with Gulf neighbours blamed on security breach.
Qatar’s Ministry of Interior said investigation teams have identified the sources through which a cyber-attack was carried out on the country’s state news agency website and its social media accounts.
In a statement issued on Wednesday about preliminary results of its ongoing probe, the ministry said the hacking operation exploited a “cyber-bug” in the website of Qatar News Agency (QNA).
Doha launched the inquiry last month after accusing hackers of publishing false remarks attributed to Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on QNA platforms.
“The investigation team confirmed that the hacking operation used high technology and innovative methods by exploiting a cyber-bug in the website of Qatar News Agency. The investigation team was able to identify the sources through which the cyber-attack was carried out,” the ministry said.
“The evidences are being analysed to ensure legal and judicial prosecution of the perpetrators. The team confirmed that the hacking file was installed in month of April, which was later exploited to disseminate the fabricated news on 24 May 2017 at 12:13am,” it added.
The fake report said Sheikh Tamim, in a speech at a military graduation ceremony, was critical of renewed tensions with Iran, expressed the need for contextualising Hezbollah and Hamas as resistance movements, and suggested US President Donald Trump might not last long in power.
A Federal Bureau of Investigations team has been in Doha for the past week after the Qatari government asked the United States for help following the security breach by hackers.
The ministry said it will release the full findings once the investigation is complete, but didn’t say when that would be.