A group claims it will begin publishing the private emails of the United Arab Emirates ambassador to the United States this weekend, according to a report from The Daily Beast.
“GlobalLeaks” — which does not appear to be related to the WikiLeaks-type website sharing the same name — sent 55 pages of Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba's emails to the news outlet along with a message saying the group would publish the entire cache this Saturday.
According to the message, the leaked emails will demonstrate “how a small rich country/company used lobbyists to hurt American interests and those of it allies.”
The goal, said GlobalLeaks, is to “reveal how million of dollars were used to hurt reputation of American allies and cause policy change.”
The UAE embassy confirmed to The Daily Beast that the Hotmail email address in the emails matched the ambassador's.
The Daily Beast describes the documents as photographed versions of printed copies of Al Otaiba’s emails dating from 2014 to 2016. The sample files contain a mundane to-and-fro between former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the ambassador from 2015, when Gates had settled into his current job as a lobbyist.
The UAE would be the second Middle Eastern nation dealing with an embarrassing hacking scandal this week. Qatar is still reeling from the diplomatic fallout from a news report printed in state-run media questioning President Trump’s positions on Iran — a story that Qatar claims was fabricated and planted via a hack. A coalition of regional states has cut diplomatic ties with Qatar over the report.
GlobalLeaks' identity is unclear, but The Daily Beast notes a few signals sent by the group imply a Moscow connection. GlobalLeaks contacted the news site via a email sent from a free Russian email provider with a subject line referencing “DC Leaks,” a WikiLeaks-type outfit believed to be a front for Russian intelligence agencies.
Last year security experts at ThreatConnect and Fidelis Cybersecurity found indications that the same hackers who hit the Democratic National Committee were preparing a fake version of the U.A.E. Ministry of Foreign Affairs website that could be used in phishing attacks. That campaign would likely target victims that could be persuaded to visit the Ministry site, a group that might include U.A.E. officials.
- This story was updated on June 8.