DOHA: Qatar said yesterday that Turkey has arrested five people in connection with the alleged hack of Doha's state news agency, an incident which sparked the current Gulf political crisis. The arrests were announced by Qatar's most senior legal figure, Attorney General Ali bin Fetais Al-Marri.


"Our friends in Turkey answered us a short time ago," he said in comments published by the Qatar News Agency (QNA). "Five people were arrested and they are being investigated. The prosecutors in Qatar are working with the Turkish authorities to follow the case." The nationality of the suspects was not given.


The alleged hack of the QNA website took place on May 24, attributing explosive political remarks to Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. The remarks covered sensitive regional political subjects such as Iran, Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, Israel and the United States. Less than a fortnight later, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates severed ties with Qatar over its ties to Shiite Iran and support for Sunni Islamist extremist groups.


Qatar denies the charges and says Sheikh Tamim did not make the statements, but that the website was hacked. Doha called in the FBI to help with the hacking investigation and has accused the UAE of being behind the cyber-attack. The UAE has denied the claims. The current Gulf crisis has now lasted more than two months and as yet mediation efforts by Kuwait, the United States and Western Europe have failed to resolve the issue. - AFP