Philippines denies spying on Qatar after convictions

Philippine's Foreign Affairs spokesperson Charles Jose gestures as he speaks during a press briefing in Manila. (AFP)

The Philippines denied Tuesday it was spying on Qatar, after three Filipinos were convicted and sentenced on spying charges in the Arab Gulf state.

The foreign department spokesman in Manila was quoted as saying that one of three men was sentenced to death, while the other two were given life sentences after being found guilty of leaking information that could threaten Gulf state’s national security.

"We are categorically denying that we are engaged in espionage," Charles Jose said of the case.

According to local media in Qatar, the three men had been in custody for five years and charged with leaking information about weaponry, aircraft, maintenance and servicing records between 2009 and 2010 to intelligence officials in the Philippines as well as a former ambassador.

They were also under scrutiny for passing on specific details about the names, ranks and phone numbers of staff members working with Filipino officials.

In an interview with ABS CBN, TV channel, Renie Magcosta, the former driver of the Filipino sentenced to death in Qatar, claimed that his former employer was used as a scapegoat by his Qatari employer who was being charged with financial corruption. The GMA Network TV channel reported that: “their Qatari boss was implicated in an anomaly involving money and might have used the convicted Filipino as a fall guy.”

Magcosta added that he and the three convicted Filipinos were among nine Filipinos arrested in 2010 in the Gulf country. Since then, six of the Filipinos – including him - have been released.

“We know that these people are innocent. They are not spies. They don’t need to be spying for the Philippines,” Magcosta was quoted by another media outlet as saying.

“They love their job, they are good citizens even in our country and Qatar. They are not doing anything anomalous.”

Local media said that the three suspects were being investigated since 2009 for allegedly spying on Qatar’s weaponry, aircrafts, maintenance and servicing records.

They were also under scrutiny for passing on specific details about the names, ranks and phone numbers of staff members working with Filipino officials.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:42 - GMT 06:42
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