Charged Kenyan activist has left Qatar, says lobby

Wednesday, August 18th, 2021 00:00 |
Workers constructing one of the Fifa 2022 World Cup stadiums in Qatar. Photo/PD/FILE

Doha, Tuesday

A Kenyan security guard charged by Qatar with receiving money from a “foreign agent” to spread disinformation has left the Gulf State after paying a fine, a rights group said Tuesday.

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, including infrastructure for the tournament.

“Fifteen weeks after being detained, forcibly disappeared, questioned without legal counsel, and finally charged for activities related to his social media posts, Malcolm Bidali has been allowed to exit Qatar on August 16 after paying a hefty fine,” Migrant Rights, a Gulf-based group which published Bidali’s dispatches, wrote on Twitter.

The statement did not specify the size of the fine or Bidali’s destination.

A person with knowledge of the matter confirmed to AFP that Bidali had paid an undisclosed fine and departed Qatar for an unknown destination.

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” after his arrest earlier that month.

Rights groups previously said that Bidali, seized from his home by state security officers, “appears to have been detained for the peaceful exercise of his human rights”.

Bidali and the Kenyan embassy in Doha did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

International organisations have frequently criticised Qatar 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, has 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”.       - AFP

More on News