Qatar Sentences 8 Indian Navy Vets To Death For Spying
NEW DELHI (IANS, ANI) – Eight former Indian Navy officers, have been sentenced to death in Qatar, and accused of spying. The eight men were working for a private firm that helped the Qatari armed forces and included decorated officers who once commanded Indian warships.
In August 2022, the retired officers were arrested on charges of spying and were accused of espionage and state-sponsored terrorism. According to reports, the eight men were spying on Qatar for Israel on a secret naval project.
The men, who were arrested in Doha last year, have been accused of spying on Qatar’s advanced submarines for Israel. These submarines were coated with special materials that enhanced their stealth capabilities, something that would be valuable for any navy in the world.
According to reports, the submarines were being built in collaboration with an Italian shipbuilding firm.
Notably, India had recognized many of them. In 2019, Commander Purnendu Tiwari was awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, the highest honor conferred on overseas Indians. In a post at the time, the Indian Embassy in Doha had said,
“The award is in recognition of his contribution towards capacity building for the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces, thereby promoting India-Qatar bilateral cooperation. He is the first Indian Armed Forces personnel to be awarded this highest honor meant for NRIs / PIOs,” the embassy had said.
The convicted men are Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Captain Saurabh Vasisht, Commander Amit Nagpal, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta and Sailor Ragesh Gopakumar. They worked for a private firm, Dahra Global Technologies, and Consultancy Services, which provided training and other services for Qatar’s armed forces.
In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs said it was shocked by the verdict and would take up the issue with Qatari authorities.
Bail petitions of the eight men had been rejected several times and the verdict against them was pronounced on Thursday by the Court of First Instance in Qatar.
India said it is “deeply shocked” by the verdict and now awaits detailed judgement.
“We have initial information that the Court of First Instance of Qatar has today passed a judgment in the case involving 8 Indian employees of Al Dahra company,” the MEA said in an official press release.
“We attach high importance to this case and have been following it closely. We will continue to extend all consular and legal assistance. We will also take up the verdict with Qatari authorities,” the MEA release said.
New Delhi had been granted consular access to the eight Indians and had been working to secure their release. The Indian nationals had their first trial in late March.