DOHA (Middle East Eye) – The family of an imprisoned World Cup organizing committee whistleblower has accused Qatari authorities of attempting to “silence” him from talking about migrant worker conditions during the tournament, Middle East Eye understands.
Abdullah Ibhais, the former deputy communications director at the 2022 Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), was arrested in November 2019 and sentenced to jail last April over allegations of bribery and misuse of funds.
Ibhais has long alleged that he is being persecuted for criticizing the handling of a strike by migrant workers in Qatar in August 2019.
His family released a statement on Monday condemning Qatar’s judicial system, revealing that his most recent appeal had been rejected during a “surprise” hearing last week.
Qatar’s Court of Cassation met on 7 November to rule on an appeal filed in February, without giving Ibhais or his representatives “written and verbal notification of any kind”, according to the family.
“The hearing was held in the absence of Abdullah, the defendant, and his lawyer, and anybody or entity that represents him,” the statement said.
It added that the defence was unheard by the appeal judge, who “ruled against Abdullah in less than one minute”.
In a statement to Middle East Eye on Monday, a spokesperson for the Supreme Committee said that Ibhais was convicted after allegations that a number of former employees, including him, did not conduct the tender the awarding of a social media management contract “in accordance with law”.
The spokesperson did not specifically answer MEE’s questions on the family’s allegations about Qatar’s judicial system and prison authorities. FIFA did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.
Human rights organizations accused Qatari authorities of serious violations of his right to a fair trial, stating that evidence against Ibhais was obtained from a confession which he later retracted in court.
He has stated that his confession was extracted under coercion by interrogators, who said that he would face serious state security charges if he did not admit to the accusations of bribery and misuse of funds.