The Qatar ministry of interior have evidence showing that the cyberattack carried on the official media has been traced to nited Arab Emirates.
The planning for the hacking of Qatar News Agency (QNA) started as early as April. Investigators also reportedly traced the IP (internet protocol) address linked to the hacking to the UAE, officials were quoted as saying by Al Jazeera during a news conference in Doha on Thursday.
“The level and the quality of the hacking was so professional that it had to have "state resources" behind it,” Captain Othman Salem al-Hamoud was quoted as saying by the news broadcaster.
Earlier, Lieutenant-Colonel Ali Mohammed al-Mohannadi, head of the ministry's technology division, said the hacking operation took place in coordination with, and through, "one of the blockading states".
"The hackers had total control of the QNA network, including the related accounts, websites and related social platforms," Mohannadi said.
"This was meant to fabricate and post the false reports, which were attributed to His highness, the Emir."
Officials said the case has been referred to prosecutors.
The cyberattacks reportedly lasted for about three hours, from late at night on May 24 to the early hours of May 25, before the state media's IT experts managed to take back control of the site.
In a video presentation, the ministry said that investigators found out that as early as April, hackers had already "infiltrated" the QNA network "using VPN software" and "scanned the website".
The ministry said the hackers "exploited" a loophole in the network's system, and installed "malicious programmes" which were then later used to carry out the publishing of the "false stories".
Addresses, passwords and emails of all the employees of the state news agency were also collected.
The Qatari emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, had been falsely quoted in May as praising Hamas and saying that Iran was an "Islamic power," the Post reported. In response, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting "terrorism". Qatar strongly denies the allegations.
Qatar said in late May that hackers had posted fake remarks by the emir, an explanation rejected by Gulf states.