Eight former Indian Navy personnel who were sentenced to death by a court in Qatar on Wednesday were charged with allegedly spying for Israel, news agency Reuters quoted sources in India and Qatar as saying. The Indian nationals were arrested by the Qatari intelligence agency in August 2022. However, charges against them were not officially disclosed by either New Delhi or Doha.
A government official in India, aware of Qatar’s stance, revealed that Qatari authorities had accused these individuals of spying for Israel. The eight Indians facing the death penalty have the option to appeal their sentences, a source familiar with the case in Qatar told Reuters.
Both Indian and Qatari foreign ministries have refrained from commenting on the claims made by these sources to Reuters. Furthermore, there has been no immediate response from the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem, which oversees Israel’s intelligence services.
Soon after the verdict was announced by the Court of First Instance in Qatar, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) expressed “deep shock” and said that it is exploring all legal actions possible.
“We are deeply shocked by the verdict of death penalty and are awaiting the detailed judgement. We are in touch with the family members and the legal team, and we are exploring all legal options,” MEA said in an official statement.
“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,” it added.
Notably, over 8 lakh Indian citizens live and work in Qatar.
The former Indian Navy officers — Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Captain Saurabh Vasisht, Commander Amit Nagpal, Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta and Sailor Ragesh — were arrested by Qatar intelligence agency from Doha on August 30, 2022.