Qatar has released eight Indian naval officers who were earlier sentenced to death on accusations of spying, the Indian government says.
On Monday morning, a foreign ministry statement said seven of the eight Indian officers had already returned to India.
“The government of India welcomes the release of eight Indian nationals working for the Dahra Global company who were detained in Qatar,” the statement said.
“Seven out of the eight of them have returned to India. We appreciate the decision by the Amir of the State of Qatar to enable the release and home-coming of these nationals.”
The eight Indian officers were arrested in August 2022 on spying charges and were sentenced to death in October last year.
The freed naval officers thanks the Indian government and prime minister Narendra Modi in particular who, they said, made a “personal intervention” in the case.
One of the freed men told India’s ANI news agency: “We are happy that we have returned to India safe and sound. We would like to thank Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi as his personal intervention made this possible, and Amir of Qatar for allowing this to happen.”
Another was quoted as saying: “We wouldn’t be standing in front of you if it wasn’t for the intervention at the highest level and the relentless efforts of the government of India.”
The eight men were identified as Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Saurabh Vasisht, Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta, Commander Amit Nagpal and Sailor Ragesh.
The men were employees of the Al Dahra consulting company, which advises the Qatari government on the acquisition of submarines.
— ANI (@ANI) February 12, 2024
Earlier, India had said it was “deeply shocked” when the death sentences were first announced, and promised to take up the verdict with the Qatari authorities.