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Qatari authorities 'paid private detectives to spy on author after he attacked World Cup 2022 plans'

Qatari authorities hired private detectives to spy on an author who wrote a damning report about the country's hosting of next year's World Cup, court papers claim.

Ghanem Nuseibeh, a consultant specialising in risk management, is threatening High Court proceedings amid claims that his email and WhatsApp accounts were hacked, letters stolen from the mailbox outside his flat and his office bugged.

It came after he published a 'risk report' called Qatar In Focus: Is The FIFA World Cup 2022 In Danger? in October 2017, which alleged 'tournament insiders' were saying privately that the Middle Eastern state would not be able to host the 2022 tournament as plans were running behind schedule. 

Ghanem Nuseibeh (pictured), a consultant specialising in risk management, is threatening High Court proceedings amid claims that his email and WhatsApp accounts were hacked

The report also alleged massive corruption taking place on contracts relating to the building of eight new stadiums.

It added that costs had already spiralled to £143 billion, making it the most expensive World Cup tournament in history.

Now Mr Nuseibeh is threatening to take legal action against Diligence Global Business Intelligence (DGBI) – a private investigation agency founded by a former MI5 officer, which admits putting him 'under limited surveillance' – in a bid to establish who it was working for.

But DGBI has pre-emptively launched its own court action against Mr Nuseibeh and his consultancy agency, Cornerstone Global Associates, in Geneva, accusing him of making false and damaging allegations. 

Court documents seen by The Mail on Sunday include a letter sent by Mr Nuseibeh's lawyers to DGBI stating that his company 'produced a report entitled 'Qatar in Focus'… [that] was critical of Qatar, and, it appears, led entities in Qatar linked to Qatar FIFA 2022 projects, to commission investigations into our clients'.

Last night, the Jerusalem-born consultant, who is chairman of a British group called Muslims Against Anti-Semitism, said he did not know who conducted the hackings and letter theft, adding he had no evidence against DGBI. The company said that its activities always comply with the law.

The report alleged massive corruption taking place on contracts relating to the building of eight new stadiums

Mr Nuseibeh's original report, which was picked up by the international media, added further pressure on Qatar, which was already dogged by claims that it bribed FIFA officials to win the World Cup bid in 2010. 

The paper was published at a time when the country was isolated by its Gulf neighbours, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), for its support of Iran and the Islamist group Muslim Brotherhood.

It is understood that sources at DGBI suspected Mr Nuseibeh was paid by the UAE to publish the anti-Qatar report, a claim he has strenuously denied.

In court papers seen by the MoS, DGBI admits they launched its investigation into Mr Nuseibeh shortly after the report was published. The firm also admits that it placed a bug outside Mr Nuseibeh's office in Mayfair, Central London, hidden behind a fire extinguisher.

Last night, Mr Nuseibeh said in a statement: 'The 2017 report was not funded by any client and was produced by Cornerstone to inform our clients in the Gulf, many of whom are from the construction industry.'

DGBI refused to comment on whether it was paid by Qatar to investigate Mr Nuseibeh, but said in an email: 'DGBI's investigative techniques are lawful, proportionate and necessary.' 

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