Manila has called it “violation of religious freedom”. The three were accused of espionage after it was discovered that they were Protestant pastors
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The three Filipino citizens who were accused of being “foreign spies” are in fact born-again Protestant pastors and Manila has referred to their arrests as a “glaring violation of religious freedom.” The three Filipinos have been in prison since 2010 and according to sources in Manila, they were arrested as a consequence of an administrative reorganization in Qatar Petroleum because it led to the dismissal of a top manager who was close to them.
According to Filipino sources, the decision taken by the Emirates authorities to extend the detention period apparently came after it was discovered that the three men were Christian priests. The accusations against them were subsequently modified to include “financial sabotage” and “espionage”. One of them was sentenced to death and the other two to life imprisonment.
“What we have here is a violation of an individual’s most basic rights,” Charles Jose, the spokesman for Manila’s foreign affairs ministry, said. He added that the three men “have categorically denied being involved in any act of espionage” and there is apparently no proof against them. But Qatar’s authorities say the investigations carried out between 2009 and 2010 showed that the three men “passed information about weapons, aircraft and top secret documents to Filipino intelligence officials”, aiming in particular to divulge secrets relating to the energy and military aviation industries.
Doha’s Court of Appeal rejected the request for the release of the three convicts and the next hearing is scheduled to take place in October.