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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

Scoop: Trump-backed Perdue says he wouldn’t have certified Georgia 2020 results

Perdue at a December 2020 campaign event in Columbus, Ga. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue wouldn’t have signed the certification of the state’s 2020 election results if he had been governor at the time, the former Senate Republican told Axios.

  • “Not with the information that was available at the time and not with the information that has come out now. They had plenty of time to investigate this. And I wouldn’t have signed it until those things had been investigated and that’s all we were asking for," he said.

Why it matters: There has been no evidence widespread fraud took place in Georgia's elections last year and the November results were counted three times, once by hand.

Beijing Olympics: These countries have announced diplomatic boycotts

Photo: Zhang Qiang/VCG via Getty Images

Several countries, including Canada and Australia, have announced they will join the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to protest human rights abuses committed by China's government.

Driving the news: Leaders have faced pressure from human rights groups and others to boycott the Games, pointing to the ongoing genocide of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China's Xinjiang region and other abuses.

Biden directs federal government to become carbon neutral by 2050

President Biden speaking to reporters outside of the White House on Dec. 8.

President Biden signed an executive order Wednesday that requires the federal government achieve multiple goals related to reducing its carbon emissions, including achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Why it matters: Meeting the objectives of the order would require a massive investment by the federal government to buy electric vehicles, upgrade buildings and change how it procures electricity.