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Friday, September 24, 2021

US Supreme court dismisses Republican’s ‘hacking’ lawsuit against Qatar

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The Republican had pleaded guilty in October last year to violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act, after conspiring to influence the federal government on behalf of the Malaysian financier Jho Low.

The US Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that it will not review Republican and former Donald Trump lobbyist Elliott Broidy and his firm’s – Broidy Capital Management LLC – claims over the alleged hacking of emails by the Qatari government.

According to Law 360, the US court did not provide reasoning behind the dismissal of Broidy’s allegations which comes following an unanimous Ninth Circuit ruling that also rejected his claims under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

In December, a three-judge panel ruled that Broidy could not sue the Gulf state for conducting a hack and leak operation into his computer servers and email accounts and sharing them with the press.

The panel found that his claims did not fall in line with the two Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act exceptions he had cited, which included using his data for commercial or tortious activity.

“The parties do not dispute that, under Qatari law, the various criminal prohibitions against hacking, theft, or disclosure of trade secrets do not bind government agents acting in accordance with official orders,” said US Circuit Judge Daniel P. Collins during the December ruling.

The Republican backed his claims by insisting that Qatar carried out the breach in retaliation for his public statements regarding its alleged support for terrorism amid the 2017 Saudi-led blockade.

The Ninth Circuit ruled last year that Qatar is immune to Broidy’s lawsuit, with Judge Collins saying that the ruling neither affirms that the hacking occurred or serves an endorsement of any kind.

“Our task is to assume the allegations to be true and then to apply the limitations of the FSIA according to the statute’s plain terms. Having done so, we conclude that the FSIA bars plaintiffs’ claims against Qatar here.”

2018 leaked emails

A federal judge also dismissed a lawsuit filed by Broidy back in 2018 over the same claims regarding Qatar’s alleged role in hacking his emails, following media reports about the content of his leaked messages.

The emails detailed conversations he had with the former Trump administration and the UAE – one of the four countries that severed all ties with Doha before imposing an illegal air, land and sea blockade.

In a report by the Associated Press [AP] in 2018, the news agency revealed UAE adviser George Nader and Broidy proposed a budget in 2017 that was worth $12 million aimed at “exposing and penalising” Qatar while lobbying the US to pressure the Gulf country to “aid in coercive action against Iran”.

The plan aimed to gather evidence over Qatar’s alleged support for “Islamist groups”, including the Muslim Brotherhood, while persuading the US government to sanction Doha and move its military base, the largest in the Middle East, to another country in the region.

“Mnuchin [former US secretary of the treasury] is a close friend of mine [my wife and I are attending Sec. Mnuchin’s wedding in Washington D.C. on June 24th],” Broidy wrote to Nader.

“I can help in educating Mnuchin on the importance of the Treasury Department putting many Qatari individuals and organisations on the applicable sanctions lists,” he added.

An earlier AP report from the same year also revealed that Nader wired $2.5 million to Broidy through a Canadian company in efforts to persuade the US to take a stand against Qatar ahead of the blockade.

A month later, Broidy reportedly sponsored a conference on Qatar’s alleged ties to Islamic extremism, where Republican Congressman Ed Royce of California, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, announced plans to introduce legislation that would label the Gulf country a “terrorist-supporting state.”

Read also: ‘Blockade was premeditated’: Al Jazeera documentary discloses leaked documents

Then in July 2017, a month after the Gulf crisis erupted, Broidy gave the California congressman $5,400 in campaign gifts.

“I’ve both raised money for, and contributed my own money to, efforts by think tanks to bring the facts into the open, since Qatar is spreading millions of dollars around Washington to whitewash its image as a terror-sponsoring state,” he told the AP at the time.

Doha News has reached out to the Government Communications Office for a comment but has yet to receive a response.

Guilty in foreign influence charge

Broidy pleaded guilty in October last year for violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act, after conspiring to influence the federal government on behalf of Malaysiann financier Jho Low, an international fugitive accused of being involved in the major 1Malaysia Development Berhad [1MDB] scandal.

He attempted to halt the Trump administration’s probe into the scandal, in which former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak was accused of transferring millions of dollars from the 1MDB into his bank accounts between 2014 and 2015.

Reports stated that an unnamed foreign national, understood to be Low, hired Broidy in 2017 to pressure Washington officials to end their investigation. He agreed to pay a $6.6 million fine following the court ruling.

In 2009, Broidy was also convicted in a public corruption and bribery case in New York

Broidy was a major fundraiser for Trump’s successful 2016 presidential campaign and deputy finance chair, until he resigned in April 2018.


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