International firm Dechert LLP has been named in a dispute between an airline operator and an emirate of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), after it was named in a state hacking claim.

Businessman Farhad Azima lodged a High Court claim last week alleging that his emails were hacked and published on the dark web by the sovereign investment fund of Ras al Khaimah emirate.

The claim forms part of a counter-claim and defence to allegations of fraud made against Azima by the emirate. According to the emirate, the counter-claim has been stayed until the beginning of next year.

Azima was assisting in the mediation of a dispute between the investment fund and its former chief executive, Dr Massaad, at the time of the alleged hack. Azima claims that when talks between the two sides broke down the emirate's ruler, Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, wanted to ‘target’ him.

Dechert solicitor Neil Gerrard, who was acting for the ruler, was named in the claim, which states: ‘Mr Gerrard told Mr Azima that if Dr Massaad would not agree to a settlement, Mr Azima would be made “collateral damage” in a war that [the fund] would then wage on Dr Massaad. Mr Azima understood this statement to be a threat.’

The claim says that Azima later learned of two websites which ‘contained links to BitTorrent internet sites, where certain materials stolen from Mr Azima were available to download with appropriate software and expertise'.

A spokesperson for the Ras al Khaimah government denied the allegations and said: ‘Mr Azima is accused of bribery, receipt of secret commissions, fraudulent misrepresentation and conspiracy and [the investment fund] looks forward to presenting its case against Mr Azima robustly when the UK trial commences in January 2020.’

Dechert has been approached for comment.