Qatar releases former Indian Navy veterans imprisoned for espionage

In late December, Qatar's court of appeal reduced the death sentences to prison terms, after New Delhi diplomatically intervened in the case.

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In a diplomatic victory for India, eight former Indian navy veterans who were arrested in Qatar in 2022 have been released, the Indian government announced on Monday.

The men were working for a private defence contractor overseeing the induction of submarines into the Qatari navy when they were detained last August on unspecified charges. After over a year in solitary confinement, they were sentenced to death in October 2023 in a shock verdict.

Following urgent diplomatic efforts by New Delhi, Qatar's court of appeal commuted the sentences in late December. On Monday, the Indian foreign ministry said seven of the men had returned home after the Emir of Qatar enabled their release.

"The Government of India welcomes the release of eight Indian nationals working for the Dahra Global company who were detained in Qatar," the ministry said in a statement. "We appreciate the decision by the Amir of the State of Qatar to enable the release and home-coming of these nationals."

The charges against the men, who were working in their personal capacity, have not been disclosed. India's legal team eventually obtained details of the allegations in November after months of mystery surrounding the case.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met the families of the detained men in October and assured them the government was making every effort to bring them home. Monday's release will come as a relief to relatives as well as a diplomatic boost for Prime Minister Modi's administration.