French senator, former football boss hacked for criticising Qatar

AP - Darko Bandic

French senator Nathalie Goulet and former European football boss Michel Platini are among some 100 people whose private data was hacked following criticism of Qatar, an investigation by British journalists has revealed. The Qatari government denies it has played any part in commissioning the eavesdropping.

The investigation, led by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) and Britain's Sunday Times newspaper, found that an India-based computer hacking gang targeted critics of the Qatar World Cup and the Gulf state more generally.

The gang's leaked database revealed the hacking of lawyers, journalists and public figures from 2019 "commissioned by one particular client", the newspaper and the bureau said on Sunday.

"This investigation points strongly to this client being the host of [the] World Cup: Qatar," it said, prompting the Qatari authorities to describe the allegation as "patently false and without merit".

Among the people targeted was Michel Platini, the French former head of European football.

Platini, who was hacked ahead of talks with French police about World Cup related graft claims, told AFP he was "surprised and deeply shocked" by the report.

He said he would be exploring all possible legal avenues over what appeared to be a serious "violation" of his privacy.

Over 100 targeted

The controversy comes two weeks before the World Cup is due to kick off in the conservative Gulf state on 20 November.

But hacking attacks were not limited to those with an interest in the World Cup.


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