United Arab Emirates doesn’t Hack Dissidents nor Journalists

June 19, 2019 | General
But news reports continue to suggest that ex-NSA hackers are helping the country hack and surveil its citizens.

A top official in the United Arab Emirates told Motherboard his government doesn’t spy on its own citizens, and that he doesn’t know how much the country spends on cyberweaponry. The comments come despite several reports alleging that the wealthy Gulf state is employing ex-NSA hackers in its surveillance operations.

“I have no idea about spending, but we do have cyber capabilities,” said Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for the U.A.E. “And we understand that these challenges towards any more modern sophisticated society will become greater challenges as we move forward.”

Gargash made the comments at a media-only roundtable after giving an address at GLOBSEC—a high profile annual conference attracting top diplomatic and foreign affairs officials from around the world held in Bratislava, Slovakia.

In January, an explosive Reuters story detailed how the U.A.E. uses former NSA hackers in tandem with its own intelligence services, to spy on journalists and dissidents with the help of an Abu Dhabi-based company called DarkMatter.

Gargash flatly rejected the report.

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