Qatar files U.S. lawsuit against online critics of its government

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By Middle East Affairs

Qatar’s says illegal social media accounts are spreading false information about the country and hurting its business, Reuters reports.

In response to the social media accounts, the Qatar government communications office has filed a U.S. lawsuit.

Reuters said the complaint was filed Friday night with a New York state court in Manhattan and states that the defendants have operated accounts since October under the QatarExposed name, using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a website, ((http://qatar-exposed.org)), to post false statements about Qatar’s government, “including promoting the sanctioning of Qatar.”

The website calls itself “a dossier on the world’s leading state sponsor of extremism” and accuses Qatar of supporting terrorist groups.

Reuters could not be reach the account operators immediately Saturday for comment.

The defendants are accused of using their anonymity, the news organization said, “to spread negative information, causing irreparable harm and injury to its operations and reputation.”

It also said only about 5 percent of @QatarExposed Twitter followers are automated “bots,” meaning most of the false statements are spread to real accounts and people.

“Defendants’ social media posts and attacks do not constitute opinion or protected political speech in its substance, content and purpose,” Reuters reports the complaint said.

The damages in its complaint are unspecified. A U.S.-based lawyer for the office did not immediately respond to Reuters on Saturday to requests for comment.

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