It has been learned that US lobbying firm Podesta Group and Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC) were behind an anti-Qatar website and twitter handle, which has been publishing fake and malicious news against Doha.
According to the Al Jazeera Arabic reporter, Wjad Waqfi, an official document sent to the US Department of Justice stated that Podesta Group had established an anti-Qatar website and a Twitter account during the Gulf crisis for Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC) and the same was managed by Salman Al-Ansari.
Apparently, the website ‘Theqatarinsider’ and twitter account @theqatarinsider have been started by Podesta Group for SAPRAC to publish fake news and spread malicious stories about Qatar.
It should be noted that an US data firm had earlier confessed that it was paid by the UAE to spread negative information about Qatar. NBC News reported that the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, SCL Social Limited, filed documents with the US Justice Department’s Foreign Agents Registration Unit disclosing $333,000 in payments by the UAE for a 2017 social media campaign linking Qatar to terrorism.
SAPRAC also launched television ad campaigns against Qatar, contracts reviewed by Al Jazeera show, with $138,000 spent on seven, 30-second TV spots.
The Podesta Group helped produce the ads, which urged the White House to cut ties with Qatar. But the ads only mention SAPRAC, making no link to Podesta, a practice which may have skirted US lobbying laws, according to an old report by US news website The Daily Beast.