A Kenyan security guard who wrote about the challenges of living as a low-wage worker in Qatar has been freed from his months long detention and left the Gulf country after paying a fine of almost £5,000, activists said Thursday.
Malcolm Bidali, 28, also had his mobile phone and social media accounts seized by Qatari authorities, rights groups said in a statement.
A migrant rights group covered the fine costs. Doha accused Bidali of sharing “fake news,” showing the limits of expression in the Gulf Arab country that will host the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The rights group say Bidali’s conviction was “handed down without him ever having been formally charged, brought before a court or even informed of the nature of the criminal charges he was facing.”
“While we are relieved that Malcolm Bidali’s ordeal is over and he has finally been able to leave Qatar, he should never have been detained in the first place,” the groups said.
“It has been clear all along that he was being penalised for his human rights activism, and this unjust ‘conviction’ for spreading ‘false information’ only confirms that.”
The Qatari government did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Analysts also say Bidali found himself targeted by a phishing attack that could have revealed his location just before his arrest.
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