Qatar Espionage Case: Indian Navy Officer Returns Home After Life Sentence

Eight former Indian Navy officers have been released. They were repatriated to India from Qatar. They had been serving jail terms in Qatar on charges of espionage. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs confirmed this on Monday night (February 12).

The Ministry of External Affairs stated – The Indian government has welcomed the release of 8 Indian Navy officers who were detained in Qatar on charges of involvement in a globally renowned espionage company. We appreciate Qatar’s decision to allow them to return home.

The Qatari intelligence agency’s State Security Bureau had apprehended 8 former Indian Navy officers on August 30, 2022.

They were sentenced to life imprisonment

All these naval officers were working in the Khanagi company, which provided training in Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy.

Dahra Global Defence Services is headed by Khamis al Ajmi of the Oman Air Force. He is its chief. He was also arrested with 8 Indian citizens, but they were released in November.

These former naval officers were sentenced to death about 14 months after their arrest on October 26, 2023. On December 28, 2023, their death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment.

The Indian government was not aware of the arrest

The Indian Embassy was first informed about the detention of Indian Navy officers in mid-September 2022. They were identified as Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Sourabh Vashisht, Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Captain Birendra Kumar Varma, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta, Commander Amit Nagpal, and sailor Ragesh.

On September 30, they were granted permission to speak on the phone with their family members for a short time. A month after their arrest, on October 3, they were given consular access for the first time. During this period, an official from the Indian Embassy met them.

All were accused of spying for Israel

According to the Financial Times, 8 Indian officers were accused of spying for Israel. According to an Al Jazeera report, these people were accused of providing information related to Qatar’s submarine project to Israel.

However, Qatar has never made these allegations public. On October 30, the families of these youths met Foreign Minister S Jaishankar. After that, India made efforts to persuade Qatar.

As Qatar’s royal family has ties to Israel, the Indian government contacted them through intermediaries. India has also spoken to America because strategically, India has a stronger grip on Qatar than America’s.

Niyati Rao

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