- Formally charged with offences related to payments received by a foreign agent for the creation and distribution of disinformation within the State of Qatar
- Bidali, who had been writing under a pseudonym, was arrested on May 5
A Kenyan 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.
Malcolm Bidali, 28 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 said earlier this month.
On May 29, 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 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.”
Bidali, who had been writing under a pseudonym, was arrested on May 5 for violating Qatar's security laws, according to a Qatari official.
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.
Rights groups have voiced concern that his detention may be in reprisal for human rights work.
Rights groups including Amnesty International said in a statement on Friday that Bidali, a security guard and blogger, told his mother in a May 20 phone call that he was being held in solitary confinement and had no access to a lawyer.
Qatar's official National Human Rights Committee said authorities gave unrestricted access to Bidali and "he was being treated properly".
NHRC added staff from the Kenyan Embassy visited him and he had contacts with his family and the International Labour Organisation.
Bidali had a week before his arrest, given a presentation to a large group of civil society organisations and trade unions about his experience working in Qatar, according to an earlier statement by Amnesty, Migrant-Rights.org, Human Rights Watch, Fair Square and the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre.
Qatar's human rights record has been in the spotlight as it prepares to host the 2022 soccer World Cup, especially over migrants' living and working conditions.
Doha has introduced labour reforms that aimed to address some concerns.
In August 2020, Qatar announced landmark changes to the labour law, including scrapping the need for a no-objection certificate. Earlier this year, a new minimum wage law was also introduced.
-Edited by SKanyara