Exactly two weeks before the FIFA World Cup, which will be held in Qatar (November 20 to December 18), a published surveySunday 6 November, by The times of Sunday reveals that journalists, politicians and even lawyers have been targeted by hackers hired to protect Qatar’s reputation.
These personalities have been targeted for their investigations or their critical stances on the emirate’s award and organization of the World Cup, which is held against the backdrop of calls for a boycott of the competition. The country is particularly involved the treatment of workers on construction sites related to competition or respect for the rights of women and LGBTQ people. Qatari government lawyers interviewed denied Qatar’s involvement in this massive hacking operation. In a statement sent to Agence France-Presse (AFP), a Qatari official also denounced the allegations “manifestly false and unfounded”resting “on a single source claiming that his client was Qatar, without providing any evidence”. And to add: “Qatar will not stand by and watch (…), and every legal option available to us is being studied to hold those responsible. “
Michele Platini “deeply shocked”
Among the targets of these hackers are a French senator, Nathalie Goulet, who accused Qatar of financing Islamic terrorism, or the former president of the Union of European Football Federations (UEFA), Michel Platini, great defender of the candidacy Qatar. The hacking of the latter would have occurred shortly before he was heard by the French justice as part of an investigation into suspicions of corruption in the assignment of the World Cup to the Gulf country.
In reaction to the claims of the British newspaper, Platini said yes “Surprised and deeply shocked”, in a statement sent to the AFP. The former captain of France is studying “All the legal follow-up it is determined to give – if the information of the Sunday times are accurate – to what appears to be a gross and vicious violation of his privacy “is specified.
Massive #Hacking operation of accounts of many personalities hostile to #Qatar and prior to my p… https://t.co/aXRdWQFrvN
Journalists are among the victims of hackers, like the Sunday times Jonathan Calvert, who had investigated corruption practices which led to the award of the World Cup to Qatar in 2010, or the American-Hungarian lawyer Mark Somos who filed a complaint against the Qatari royal family before the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Hacking operations since 2019
According to the data recovered from The times of Sunday and the Investigative Journalism Office this year, it is from 2019 that these operations of hacking the mailboxes or remote control of the microphones and cameras of the computers of about fifty personalities, carried out by a group of Indian hackers have begun. “The survey clearly states that the client (of the hackers) is the host of the next World Cup: Qatar”journalists write.
The use of the Indian group of hackers would have been done through former British police or intelligence agents, who now work in the private sector, the British newspaper’s investigation details.
In addition to Qatar, the investigation reveals many other cases of computer piracy of personalities carried out by the same Indian group, on behalf of English law firms, autocratic regimes.
Swiss President Ignazio Cassis was so targeted right after an interview devoted to sanctions against Russia with Boris Johnson when he was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, just like Philip Hammond when he was British finance minister and while dealing with Russia’s fallout. Novichok poisonings in the UK. An oligarch who fled Russia was also reportedly targeted at the request of a London law firm working for the Russian state.