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Clarifying the status of the eighth former Indian Navy officer, who was put on death row by a Qatar court in an espionage case before being released, the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday said he has certain requirements to fulfil.

The eighth Indian national will return as soon as he fulfils all the requirements, the MEA stated in a briefing on Thursday. Addressing the press briefing on Thursday, the official spokesperson of the MEA, Randhir Jaiswal said, “As you know, all 8 Indian nationals who were involved in the Al Dahra Global case, have been released.”

“Seven of them have returned to India…the eighth Indian national has certain requirements to fulfil. He will return as and when those are completed. So, that is where we are on the 8th national,” Mr Jaiswal added.

Amid desperate pleas by the anxious family members of the Navy veterans to secure their release and safe passage back to their homeland, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had assured that it would mobilise all diplomatic channels and arrange legal assistance to bring them back.

The Navy veterans–Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Saurabh Vasisht, Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta, Commander Amit Nagpal and Sailor Ragesh–were detained in August 2022.

On December 28, 2023, Qatar’s Court of Appeal commuted the death penalty awarded to all eight men in October 2023.

The eight Indian nationals, imprisoned in Qatar since October 2022, were accused of spying on a submarine programme. The retired naval personnel were sentenced to death by a Qatar court on charges that had not yet been made public officially.

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on the sidelines of the COP28 summit in Dubai and discussed bilateral partnerships and the “well-being of the Indian community” in Qatar.