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Indian journalist flees Doha, Fearing arrest for story on detained naval veterans

“The journalist is working for the Doha edition of a leading South India-based publication.

NEW DELHI:  An Indian journalist working in Doha had to flee and return home due to an imminent threat of arrest over a story published on the eight Indian naval officers who were arrested by Qatar’s Interior Ministry in August 2022.

“The journalist was working for the Doha edition of a leading South India-based publication. The reporter learned that Qatar’s Ministry of Interior was monitoring her, and she would have been picked up for questioning. Based on this information, the reporter and her spouse (who was working in Doha) packed their bags and left the country. Qatar’s Interior Ministry was upset about a story that had been written on the eight naval officers and their upcoming hearing. It viewed this coverage as against their national interests,” said a source.

The couple is now back on home turf. “They are back home in India but are too shaken to speak. The laws in Qatar can lead to arrests if the ministry finds any act contrary to what they feel is against their national interest. Questioning often leads to arrests, and then it becomes difficult to get out,” the source added.
The authorities in Qatar, it is learned, get offended by whatever they deem contrary to their national interest.

This is the first incident of a journalist returning to India out of fear of facing a trial. It may be recalled that eight Indian naval veterans were picked up from their houses on August 30, 2022, by Qatar’s interior ministry. The eight officials are being tried under Qatari law, and the seventh hearing of their case was held on October 3 in Doha. A judgment is expected soon.

The Indian government has provided judicial assistance to the Indian veterans, and consular access was granted on October 1. The detained individuals include 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. They were employed by the Omani company Dhara in Doha, when they were picked up from their residences in Doha for questioning. (representative image-credit 123RF

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