India ‘deeply shocked’ after Qatar sentences 8 nationals to death on reported spy charges

By Vedika Sud, Akanksha Sharma, Aishwarya S Iyer, and Kathleen Magramo, CNN

New Delhi CNN  —  Qatar has sentenced eight Indian nationals to death, India’s government said, following their reported detention in Doha last year on espionage charges.

In a statement Thursday, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said it was “deeply shocked” by the verdict and would take up the matter with Qatari authorities.

“We are in touch with the family members and the legal team, and we are exploring all legal options,” the statement said.

CNN has reached out to Qatar’s government but has not received an official comment.

The Indian nationals were ex-servicemen of the Indian Navy, according to a letter dated December 23 last year by External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar, which was posted by Indian member of parliament, Manish Tewari, on X, formerly Twitter.

Tewari says the letter was a written reply to him in response to concerns he had raised in parliament over the “illegal incarceration” of retired Navy officers.

Maj. Gen. (retd.) Satbir Singh, Chairman of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, said the families of the men were “distraught.”

“These men went to train the Qatar Naval personnel, and now they are being blamed for espionage,” he said.

Singh said the organization, which works for the welfare of defense personnel, had been advocating for the men since they were detained last year, writing letters to senior Indian government figures, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Of the eight, seven were commanders and one was a sailor, he said.

“They are all ageing men and have different health issues that need attention. The families are distraught by the news,” Singh said.

The Indian ministry did not share details about the charges or verdict, nor name the citizens, but said they were employees of Qatar-based company Al Dahra.

CNN has reached out to Al Dahra but has not received a response.

The eight Indians were detained by Qatari authorities on spying charges on August 2022, CNN affiliate CNN-News18 reported Thursday.

CNN cannot independently verify the charges.

Hundreds of thousands of Indians provide a large proportion of Qatar’s more than 2 million strong foreign workforce – which accounts for 95% of labor in the gas-rich Gulf state, according to United Nations data.

This is a developing story, more to come.

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