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Major Saudi newspaper site recovered after hack​

The kingdom's religious conservatives refer to al-Watan as 'al-Wathan' Arabic for 'the idol' [AFP]

Date of publication: 3 June, 2016

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Saudi al-Watan newspaper recovers its site after hackers outside the kingdom seized it on Thursday, publishing false reports over Saudi-led military coalition's operations in Yemen.
A major Saudi Arabian newspaper recovered its site after it was hacked, the paper revealed.

The site of al-Watan newspaper was seized by hackers outside the kingdom earlier on Thursday, who published false news about the country's military operation in Yemen, the paper said in a statement.

The fake report on al-Watan was sourced by a number of Arabic news sites loyal to Shia dominated Iran, a regional rival of Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia.

"They were able to control the site for a period of time and published false news," the statement said.

The hackers intentionally "published lies" including a fake statement by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the newspaper said.

The Crown Prince was cited saying the Saudi-led military coalition's operation in Yemen had gone on longer than expected, comments which al-Watan said were "not based on any reality."

The coalition began airstrikes in Yemen in March last year to support the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, seized much of the country.

A fragile truce has been in effect for almost two months while UN-brokered talks between the rebels and government take place in Kuwait.

Al-Watan is a privately-owned paper linked to a member of the royal family and is based in the southwestern city of Abha.

It is considered as one of the most liberal and pro-reform newspapers in the kingdom, although journalism in Saudi Arabia remains very limited and most outlets express similar views on critical matters.

Columnists challenged the teachings of the kingdom's strict Muslims clerics as well as the role of the religious police force.

The kingdom's religious conservatives began referring to al-Watan as "al-Wathan," Arabic for "the idol," suggesting that the newspaper was idolatrous.

Agencies contributed to this report

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