Qatar releases Kenyan activist: rights groups
A Kenyan security guard charged by Qatar with receiving money from a “foreign agent” to spread disinformation within the Gulf state has been released from custody, rights groups said on Wednesday.
Malcolm Bidali, under his pen name Noah, published articles on the plight of migrant labourers working on projects in the gas-rich host of the 2022 World Cup that include infrastructure for the tournament.
“Malcolm is no longer in custody, but faces apparently trumped-up charges in Qatar related to his legitimate activism,” Amnesty International said in a statement on Twitter.
“All charges stemming from his human rights work must be dropped,” it added.
Advocacy group Migrant Rights also confirmed his release.
Qatar said on May 29 that Bidali had been charged with “offences related to payments received by a foreign agent for the creation and distribution of disinformation”, following his arrest earlier in the month.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Migrant-Rights.org, FairSquare and the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre had called for his immediate release.
The rights groups said in a statement last week that Bidali “appears to have been detained for the peaceful exercise of his human rights”, adding that he was seized from his home by state security officers, Qatar’s secret police.
The Qatari government and the Kenyan embassy in Doha did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.
International organisations frequently criticise the gas-rich nation over the treatment of its hundreds of thousands of foreign workers, mostly from Africa and Asia.
Doha has announced several reforms to its employment regulations since it was selected to host the World Cup, although critics say implementation has been patchy.
FIFPRO, the global footballers’ union, had said it was “concerned” by the detention of Bidali who “a week before his arrest, spoke to trade union officials about his experiences of working in the country”.