Russian hackers are believed to be behind fake news that helped sparked the Qatar diplomatic crisis in which Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations are increasing pressure on the gulf state.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE insist that Qatar break all links with the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Iran before diplomatic and economic relations can be restored, The Guardian reported.
Eight Arab nations severed ties with Qatar, including air, land and sea links, over what they consider to be the state's support of terrorism, Time magazine noted. Those involved in the restrictions include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, Mauritius and the Maldives.
"Nobody wants to hurt Qatar. It has to choose whether it must move in one direction or another direction. We took this step with great pain so that it understands that these policies are not sustainable and must change," Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir told reporters, according to The Guardian, which called the diplomatic crisis the "worst to hit the Gulf states in 30 years."
Qatar denies funding extremist groups and claims that media reports that its ruler made a speech friendly to Iran were false.
U.S. investigators said intelligence indicates Russian hackers accessed Qatar's state news agency and planted a fake news report, with an apparent goal to cause rifts among the US and its allies, CNN reported.
Russian official denied the claim.
"We’re getting tired of reacting to unsubstantiated banalities," Andrei Krutskikh, a Kremlin adviser on cybersecurity said, according to The Independent. "Whatever happens it is hackers. It’s a stale claim and as ever there is zero evidence, and conclusions are drawn before the incident is even investigated."
UAE foreign minister Anwar Gargash said further measures would be taken to ensure Qatar make "iron-clad" commitments to against funding militants, The Guardian reported. He barred Qatari passport- or resident visa-holders entry and said those expressing sympathy toward Qatar could face up to 15 years in prison.
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