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A United Arab Emirates cyber espionage contractor staffed with several former U.S. intelligence agents hacked journalists or news executives at Al Jazeera, the BBC, Al Arabi and others throughout June 2017, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Previous reporting on the contractor DarkMatter and the espionage operation "Project Raven," including stories in The Intercept and Reuters, raised concerns about the UAE's espionage against journalists, including one in London and three in the U.S. But the full extent of the country's targeting reporters is still being determined.

Details: At a minimum, the number of reporters appears to be much higher than four.

  • Reuters reports that the UAE instigated digital surveillance on six journalists over a three week period in June.
  • That date corresponds with regional strife between several nations and Qatar which included a UAE blockade of Qatar, and Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE blocking the Qatar-funded news network Al Jazeera.
  • Days after all the reporters were hacked, the UAE demanded Qatar cease funding any media networks and shutter Al Jazeera.

The intrigue: The goal of the hacking operations was to try to find a nexus between Qatari funding, the Muslim Brotherhood and reporters critical of the UAE.

  • Victims included Azmi Bishara (founder of Al-Araby Al Jadeed), Giselle Khoury (a host on BBC Arabic), Abdulrahman Elshayyal (CEO of Al-Araby Al-Jadeed), Faisal al-Qassem (a host on Al Jazeera), Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani (chairman of Al Jazeera) and Abdullah Al-Athba (editor of the Al-Arab newspaper).
  • Also targeted was the Al-Hiwar television network. Al-Hiwar's founder, Azzam Tamimi, who publicly acknowledges ties to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Go deeper

Updated 6 mins ago - World

Scoop: Leaked Ukraine memo reveals scope of Russia's aggression

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits a military exposition in Sevastopol, Crimea, in Jan. 2020. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russia has been holding last-minute military exercises near commercial shipping lanes in the Black Sea that threaten to strangle Ukraine's economy, according to an internal document from Ukraine's ministry of defense reviewed by Axios.

Why it matters: With the eyes of the world on the massive buildup of troops in eastern Ukraine, the leaked memo shows Russian forces escalating their presence on all sides of the Ukrainian border.

The ascent of Lina Khan, tech antitrust icon

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: An Rong Xu/Washington Post via Getty Images

A Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday for Lina Khan's appointment to a commissioner's seat on the Federal Trade Commission will mark a watershed moment in federal efforts to rein in big tech companies.

Why it matters: Khan, who has helped define broad new ways to think about how antitrust law should apply to modern technology companies, has had temporary government roles before. But a seat on the FTC, which has the power to investigate and sue companies, would put her at the center of D.C.'s regulatory action.

Maxine Waters offers right-wing alternative universe for Chauvin trial

Data: Stanford Cable TV News Analyzer; Chart: Axios Visuals

While Fox News has largely ignored the Derek Chauvin trial compared to competitors, conservative media seized on comments from Rep. Maxine Waters over the weekend, making it the single biggest trial storyline on social media since it began on March 29, according to NewsWhip data provided to Axios.

Why it matters: The data shows that for conservative America, the story in Minneapolis is being used as a way to highlight the aggression of protesters rather than the police killing of a Black man.