Eight former Indian Navy personnel detained in Qatar over an alleged case of espionage have been released from jail. After staying in the Gulf country for over 18 months, seven of the veterans are already back in the country.
The Ministry of External Affairs stated in a press release,
The Government of India welcomes the release of eight Indian nationals working for the Dahra Global company who were detained in Qatar. Seven out of the eight of them have returned to India. We appreciate the decision by the Amir of the State of Qatar to enable the release and home-coming of these nationals.
These navy personnel were given death sentences on October 26, 2023, by Qatar’s Court of First Instance. After interference by the Indian diplomats, on December 28, 2023, the death sentence given to them turned into a prison sentence with different durations for each of them.
These Indian citizens were working at the private company Al Dahra and were arrested for alleged spying in August 2022. In March 2023, charges were filed against these eight men under the law of Qatar. However, these charges were not made public by the Qatari or New Delhi authorities. Throughout the trial, neither the Qatari authorities, the Navy veterans, nor the Indian government made any related public announcements. Reportedly, Al Dahra Global was shut down in Doha in May 2023, and the remaining Indians working at the company returned home.
Not only this, but the detained Navy veterans had no idea they were going to be released. They were taken by the embassy officials and returned to India on an IndiGo flight at 2 a.m. There were rumours that these eight Indians would be released from Qatar ahead of Ramzan or Eid. However, their return was only possible because of the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as the men were set free a day before Modi visited the United Arab Emirates on February 13 and 14.