Five suspects linked to the alleged hacking of Qatar's state news agency in May that triggered the Gulf diplomatic crisis have been detained in Turkey, Qatar's attorney general said. Attorney General Ali Bin Fetais al-Marri said the suspects are being interrogated but did not provide details like their names, nationalities or connection to the hack, Reuters reported.
"Our friends in Turkey answered us a short time ago. Five people were detained and they are being investigated. Qatari prosecutors are working with Turkish authorities to follow this case," Al-Marri was quoted as saying by local news outlets.
The results of the investigation will be announced once completed, he added.
In May, Qatar claimed that its state news agency, Qatar News Agency (QNA), was hacked by unknown threat actors and briefly published a "false statement" attributed to its Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in which he apparently praised rival nation Iran. The Gulf nation immediately denied the remarks attributed to the Emir and said hackers had posted the false story on QNA.
However, the alleged hack ignited a regional trade and diplomatic crisis that saw Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain sever ties with Qatar.
The country's Arab neighbours also accused it of supporting terrorism, Islamist militant groups and regional rival Iran – allegations that Qatar denied.
Al-Marri said in June that Qatar had evidence that certain iPhones originating from the countries that had since cut diplomatic ties with Doha had been linked to the alleged hack.
"We have enough evidence to point the finger of blame at these countries", Al-Marri had said, without naming the suspected countries. However, he said investigators have traced the internet service providers used in these countries and that he would "soon" be able to provide the specific phone numbers of the perpetrators behind the hack.
"As far as we are concerned, the case is very clear", he said at the time.
In July, Qatar's Ministry of Interior said experts traced the IP address linked to the QNA hacking to the UAE, with planning for the attack having begun as early as April.
"The hackers had total control of the QNA network, including the related accounts, websites and related social platforms," Lieutenant-Colonel Ali Mohammed al-Mohannadi, head of the ministry's technology division, told Al Jazeera.
"This was meant to fabricate and post the false reports, which were attributed to His highness, the Emir," Al-Mohannadi added.
Citing anonymous US intelligence officials, The Washington Post also reported in July that the UAE orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news websites and social media sites to post false comments attributed to its ruling Emir.
The Post reported that newly-analyzed information gathered by US intelligence agencies confirmed that senior UAE government officials discussed the cyberattack plans and their implementation on 23 May – the day before the alleged hack took place. However, it is still unclear whether the hacks were carried out by the UAE government or via a contracted third party.
Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE's ambassador to the US, dismissed the report as "false".
"What is true is Qatar's behaviour. Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas and Gaddafi. Inciting violence, encouraging radicalisation, and undermining the stability of its neighbours," Al-Otaiba had said in a statement.