Eight Indians sentenced to death in Qatar over espionage for Israel

 

A Qatari court handed the death penalty to eight Indian former naval officers on Thursday for allegedly spying for Israel.

While neither New Delhi nor Doha has officially stated the charges against the eight who were arrested in August 2022, two sources from India and Qatar respectively revealed this to Reuters.

The reports said a government official aware of Doha’s stance said the Qatar authorities had accused them of spying for Israel.

The source briefed on the case said the eight Indians will be able to appeal the death sentence,  as well as also saying they had been charged with spying for Israel.

Both sources spoke on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the case.

A spokesperson for India’s foreign ministry did not respond to a request for comment about the sources’ comments and there was no immediate reply from Qatar’s foreign ministry.

In the same vein, there was no immediate response from the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem, which oversees Israel’s intelligence services.

The ruling comes as Doha is trying to negotiate with the Palestinian militant group Hamas for the release of over 200 hostages seized during its October 7 rampage in Israel, which is bombing Gaza with aerial strikes in response.

The case involving the eight Indians, who were working on a submarine project with a private company for the Qatari authorities, could also become a diplomatic issue for New Delhi, which depends heavily on Qatar for its natural gas needs.

The Indian government said on Thursday that it was “deeply shocked” that Qatar’s Court of First Instance had awarded the death penalty to the eight Indians, adding it was “exploring all legal options”.

New Delhi had said that it always attaches “high importance to this case” and will “take up the verdict with Qatari authorities”.

The government said it would not comment further due to the “confidential nature of the proceedings”.

Jairam Ramesh, a spokesperson for India’s opposition Congress party urged the Indian government on Thursday to “use its diplomatic and political leverage with the Qatar government” to do its utmost to get them released at the earliest.

More than 800,000 Indian citizens live and work in Qatar.


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