The Indian government has filed an appeal against the death sentence awarded to the eight former Navy officers in Qatar, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Thursday.

“Qatar has a court of first instance that gave the judgement,” Bagchi said during a press conference. “The judgement is confidential and has been shared with the legal team. We are also in touch with Qatari authorities.”

The spokesperson said that the Indian embassy in Doha received another consular access to the detainees on November 7. “We will remain engaged with the authorities in the matter,” he added.

On October 26, the Qatari court sentenced the veterans to death on charges that have not been made public.

The former officers have been identified as Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Captain Saurabh Vasisht, Commander Amit Nagpal, Commander Purenendu Tiwari, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta and Sailor Ragesh. They worked for a private company Al Dahra, which reportedly provides training to the Qatari Navy.

They were arrested by the Gulf nation in August 2022. After their conviction, the Ministry of External Affairs expressed shock and said that New Delhi “will take up the verdict” with Doha.

On October 30, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that he met the families of the veterans and told them that the Indian government attaches the highest importance to the case.

Some news reports had initially suggested that they were detained on suspicion of spying for Israel. However, the Hindustan Times in November last year quoted unidentified Indian officials as having rejected the speculation.

The Indian embassy in Doha reportedly first learnt about the navy veterans’ detention in mid-September 2022. The Indian diplomatic mission in Doha was granted consular access to them in October and December 2022. Their families were then allowed either weekly visits or phone conversations.

The retired officers’ families have been seeking the Indian government’s help in securing their release and repatriation.