MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines denied Tuesday it was spying on Qatar, after three Filipinos were convicted of espionage in the Gulf state.
One man was sentenced to death and two to life in jail after a court found them guilty of leaking information that could threaten Qatari national security, foreign department spokesman Charles Jose said.
“We are categorically denying that we are engaged in espionage,” Jose said when asked about the case.
Jose declined to give any further information on the case but Qatari media published some details about the trial.
The three men had been in custody for five years, Qatar’s Al-Raya daily reported, and were 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.
The defendants worked at a major state-run Qatari company.
The two men jailed for life were also employed by the Qatari Air Force as technicians and provided the third man with “secret information” in return for “big amounts of money,” it said.
The defendant who was sentenced to death had spied for a “state security force” in the Philippines, the newspaper added.
He had reportedly passed copies of project tenders to other companies, as well as classified information about a Qatari Air Force base to Filipino officials, the Doha News website said, citing a source close to the case.
Al-Raya identified him as a lieutenant in the Philippines’ state security force, which sent him to Qatar, saying he was trained under the supervision of another officer at Manila International Airport.
He provided state security with information he hid, along with secret documents, in presents sent to the officer he worked for via mediators at Manila Airport, the newspaper said.
The second defendant leaked secret information to his Filipino handler and the third travelled with the main convict to the Philippines in 2009 and gave him information on Qatari military aircraft, the numbers of Filipinos employed there and their salaries, Al-Raya said.
The information could not be independently verified.
The defendants are currently being tried by an appeals court in Doha which on Monday set their next hearing for October 27.