Qatar has released eight former Indian naval officers after dropping their initial death sentences on charges of spying for Israel, in an apparent effort to save relations with New Delhi.
In a statement, India’s Ministry of External Affairs today expressed appreciation for “the decision by the Amir [Emir] of the State of Qatar to enable the release and home-coming of these nationals”, as the eight men arrived back in India last night.
Congratulations to Prime Minister @narendramodi Ji, External Affairs Minister @DrSJaishankar Ji & our exceptional IFS officers for their successful diplomatic efforts in securing the release of our ex-Navy veterans from #Qatar.
— Milind Deora | मिलिंद देवरा ☮️ (@milinddeora) February 12, 2024
Their release comes almost two months after Qatar dropped the death sentences that were handed to them in October last year on charges of conducting espionage for Israel, allegedly by passing sensitive information regarding submarine technology to Israeli intelligence.
Although many details surrounding their arrest, sentencing and commuting remain unclear, the eight former Indian naval officers had reportedly been senior employees of a company advising on a Qatari programme aimed at obtaining high-tech, Italian-made, submarines that could evade radar detection at the time of their arrest in August 2022.
The commuting of their death sentences and their eventual release was seemingly a direct result of the Indian government’s intervention in their case, having filed an appeal and attained consular access to the detainees.