NEW DELHI (Agencies): Qatar has freed eight former Indian Navy officers who were previously sentenced to death on alleged espionage charges. New Delhi announced this development early Monday. Seven of the men have already arrived in the Indian capital and expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the authorities for their assistance in securing their release.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs appreciated the decision by the Qatari emir to facilitate the release and return of these former naval officers. The move, hailed as a diplomatic triumph for New Delhi, followed extensive discussions between the two nations.

The Indian veterans, who worked for Oman-based Dahra Engineering & Security Services, were arrested by Qatar’s intelligence service in August 2022. Although the specific charges were not disclosed, New Delhi expressed shock at the sentences handed down by a Qatari court and vowed to explore all legal avenues to secure their release.

In December, the appellate court in Qatar commuted the sentences, coinciding with a meeting between Prime Minister Modi and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani at the COP28 summit in Dubai. While media outlets speculated that the veterans were arrested on espionage charges, neither the Qatari authorities nor New Delhi publicly disclosed the charges against them.

Following their release, the veterans were received by embassy officials and flown back to India on an Indigo Airlines flight, as reported by NDTV news channel.

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