Qatar has charged a Kenyan man who highlighted workers rights abuses in the 2022 football World Cup host country with receiving payments from a “foreign agent”.
Malcolm Bidali, a security guard, was arrested on May 5 and held in solitary confinement.
He was formally charged on Saturday evening, according to the Qatari regering‘s communication office.
“Following a thorough investigation by the authorities, the case of Mr Malcolm Bidali has been transferred to Qatar Public Prosecution,” read a statement.
“Mr Bidali has been formally charged with offences related to payments received by a foreign agent for the creation and distribution of disinformation within the State of Qatar.”
Qatar’s official National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) said authorities gave unrestricted access to Bidali and “he was being treated properly”.
The NHRC added staff from the Kenyan Embassy had visited him and he had also had contacts with his family and the United Nation’s International Labour Organisation, which has an office in Doha.
Mr Bidali, wrote under the pseudonym of ‘Noah Articulates’, regularly exposing working abuses in the Gulf state, which has come under intense criticism for its labour practices ever since being controversially chosen as the host for football’s biggest tournament.
Many critics remain unappeased by some labour reforms introduced by Doha in the past few years.
Rights groups have voiced concern that his detention may be in reprisal for human rights work.
Migrant-Rights.Org, which works on labour rights throughout the Gulf, said his arrest was of “real concern”.
“While further details have not been released, it seems clear these charges are directly linked to his blog posts and advocacy, despite earlier reassurances from Qatari authorities that his arrest was unrelated to his activism,” it tweeted.
A week before his arrest, Mr Bidali had given a presentation to a large group of civil society organisations and trade unions about his experience working in Qatar.