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Legal Matters

Qatar Hires Former U.S. Attorney General To Rebut Terrorism Allegations

The government of Qatar has hired former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to help the country challenge accusations from its Arab neighbors and U.S. President Donald Trump that it supports terrorism.

Qatar will pay the Ashcroft Law Firm $2.5 million for 90 days of work as the country seeks to confirm its efforts to fight global terrorism and comply with financial regulations including U.S. Treasury rules.

The revelations about the hiring of Ashcroft's law firm were contained in a filing with the U.S. Justice Department that was made on June 9 in accordance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

A letter submitted in the filing by Ashcroft Law Firm partner Michael Sullivan said the firm's work would "include crisis response and management, program and system analysis, media outreach, education and advocacy regarding the client's historical, current and future efforts to combat global terror and its compliance goals and accomplishments."

Qatar faces isolation by fellow Arab countries after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), and Egypt severed ties with Doha on June 5, accusing it of supporting Islamist militants and their adversary Iran.

Qatar denies the allegations.

On June 8, Arab states led by Saudi Arabia issued a list of Qatar-linked people and organizations it said were "terrorists" as they ratcheted up their boycott of the peninsular state.

Included on the "terrorist" list were the Egyptian leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Yousef al-Qaradawi, and 12 Qatari-funded charities.

Trump on June 9 said Qatar "has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level."

Trump's remarks came shortly after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on Saudi Arabia and its allies to ease their land and sea "blockade against Qatar.

Saudi Arabia on June 10 praised Trump for his remarks about Qatar.

Moscow on June 10 called for dialogue to resolve the dispute.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on June 10 that Ankara hopes the rift between the "Muslim countries" would end "through peaceful dialogue before the religious holiday," referring to Eid al-Fitr which marks the end of Ramadan.

Turkey, like Qatar, has supported the Muslim Brotherhood, which led an elected government in Egypt in 2013 but was ousted from power by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The human rights advocacy group Amnesty International, meanwhile, warned of "heartbreak and fear" suffered by ordinary people caught in the diplomatic crossfire.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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