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Kenyan activist detained in Qatar Malcom Bidali charged with spreading disinformation

Kenyan activist Malcom Bidali who had been detained in Qatar for two weeks without charge has now been charged with spreading disinformation, we wrote about it here.

Malcom Bidali, 28, is a Kenyan worker and a human rights activist advocating for labour rights due to the abuse experienced by migrant workers in the country. The activist had been detained for two weeks without charge as human rights groups and fellow sympathisers had demanded for his right to freedom.

Qatar’s Government Communication Office (GCO) confirmed that Malcolm 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”.

The government says that his case was transferred to the Public Prosecution office after an investigation and that Mr Bidali was “receiving legal advice and representation ahead of the court date, which has not yet been set”.

Macom Bidali has been held incommunicado for the last three weeks following his arrest which came by after he spoke extensively about the human rights abuse faced by labour workers in the Arab country.

Malcom Bidali had written about his experience as a migrants worker in Qatar under the pen name Noah. He wrote regularly for (MR) and detailed the conditions faced by many migrants workers in the Gulf country especially as it prepares to host the 2022 World Cup.

He came to the country three years ago to work as a security guard.

Qatar’s official National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), however, said authorities gave unrestricted access to Mr Bidali and “he was being treated properly”. The agency added that staff from the Kenyan Embassy visited him and that he had contact with his family and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Qatari authorities confirmed that Bidali was “taken into custody and placed under investigation for violating Qatar’s security laws and regulations.” It did not give further details on which laws Bidali had broken then. 

Malcom Bidali’s mother, Maggie Turner, told ITV News on Thursday that her son spoke to her for 10 minutes after the Kenyan ambassador in Qatar intervened.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) released a statement urging the Gatari governemt to release Mr Bidali from prison. His reason for being arrested still remain clear.

If convicted under Article 120 of Qatar’s penal code, Mr Bidali could face up to 10 years in prison and a Sh430,000 (15,000 Qatari riyal) fine.

Kenya’s ambassador to Qatar, Paddy Ahinda, told Al Jazeera that he could not comment on the accusations levelled against Mr Bidali, but added that he would meet him soon.

Source: AllAfrica, Nation