A prominent lawyer and former justice minister of Qatar has asserted that a new travel ban against him is “politically motivated.”
Dr. Najeeb Al Nuami has been unable to leave Qatar since Jan. 8, when he received an SMS alerting him about the ban.
Speaking to Doha News, Al Nuami said he was told that the prosecutor’s office is seeking to charge him with professional misconduct.
However, on Twitter he said that “the travel ban on me has no legal basis.”
He also told an Egyptian newspaper that the ban appeared to be a punishment for the political stances he has taken over the years.
Al Nuami served as the country’s Minister of Justice from 1995 to 1997, and is now an outspoken critic of the government.
He has defended several high-profile cases over the years, including the Qatari poet who was jailed (and eventually pardoned) for allegedly insulting the Emir; Saddam Hussein and prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
Pardoned Qatari poet Mohammed Al-Ajami
Speaking to Doha News yesterday, he said the travel ban was a “gross abuse of prosecutorial power” and has made it difficult for him to work, as he has several clients abroad.
However, he remained defiant, adding that officials in Qatar now “have the international community to answer to.”
“The authorities think they can pressure me like this. But I don’t and won’t bow in the face of this or any other pressures,” Al Nuami said.
It remains unclear exactly why Al Nuami was banned from leaving Qatar.
But he said he was told a complaint was filed against him by an Omani businessman who alleged that he abused his attorney-client privilege.
However, Al Nuami argued that the man had been forced to file that complaint after being tortured by security officers over a conflict he had with a prominent Qatari.
That complaint was later rescinded, Al Nuami said.
News of the travel ban has already caught the eye of some human rights groups.
Amnesty International told Doha News that it was concerned to hear of the travel ban and is seeking further information.