A Kenyan national working in Qatar, who was arrested in the capital Doha earlier this month, has been charged with receiving payment to spread disinformation in the country.
The 28-year-old Malcolm Bidali, who works as a security guard, was arrested from his accommodation on May 5 and “placed under investigation for violating Qatar’s security laws and regulations”, Qatar’s Government Communication Office (GCO) said earlier this month.
On Saturday, the GCO confirmed that Bidali was “formally charged with offences related to payments received by a foreign agent for the creation and distribution of disinformation within the State of Qatar”.
“Following a thorough investigation by the authorities, the case of Mr Malcolm Bidali has been transferred to Qatar Public Prosecution,” the statement added. “Mr Badali is receiving legal advice and representation ahead of the court date, which has not yet been set.”
Blogging under a pseudonym, Noah, Bidali wrote about labour rights issues, including long working hours, issues with wages, working conditions and unsuitable accommodation and conditions at his workplace.
Just days before his arrest, Bidali, who moved to Qatar in 2016, made an online presentation to civil society groups on the state of migrant workers in Qatar, giving his experience working as a security guard there.
Qatar’s official National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) said authorities gave unrestricted access to Bidali and “he was being treated properly”.
The NHRC added staff from the Kenyan embassy visited him and he had contacts with his family and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
The ILO officials turned down Al Jazeera’s request for comment but added that “a statement is forthcoming”.
The ambassador of Kenya to Qatar, Paddy Ahenda, told Al Jazeera he was unable to comment on the charges but added he will be meeting Bidali soon.
Rights groups have voiced concern that his detention may be in reprisal for human rights work.
News source- AljaZeera