Qatar Upholds Journalist’s Death Sentence

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By: Tarek Al-Issawi, Associated Press Writer

(AP) A Qatari appeals court on Monday upheld the death sentence imposed on a Jordanian journalist convicted of spying on U.S. troops.

The sentence must be approved by the country’s emir, who could also decide to pardon Firas al-Majali, 30, a reporter for the state-owned Qatar Television. He was arrested in January 2002 and sentenced in October.

Officials say he sent information to Jordan on the status of U.S. troops. The military plans to use Qatar as its command center in the event of a war with Iraq.

Executions are rare in Qatar. Majali’s relatives were hopeful the emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, would pardon him.

Majali’s wife, Roula Abul-Rouss, said her husband’s trial was affected by a dispute between Jordan and Qatar over a TV program Jordan found insulting to its royal family.

In August, Jordan recalled its ambassador to Qatar to protest the program, aired by the Qatar-based Arab network Al-Jazeera. The ambassador returned in November, and the leaders of the two countries met in Paris in January.

“I am sure the emir will be gracious and release my husband after a year of suffering,” she said in Amman, Jordan’s capital.

The last executions in Qatar occurred in June 2000.

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