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Qatar slaps travel ban on Saddam's trial lawyer: NGO

Najeeb al-Nuaimi had clients ranging from Saddam Hussein to Islamist militants in Guantanamo
Najeeb al-Nauimi, acting as part of Saddam Hussein's legal team in 2005 (AFP)

Authorities in Qatar have barred a prominent human rights lawyer and former justice minister from leaving the country, a rights group said on Friday. 

Najeeb al-Nuaimi was also a lead defence lawyer in ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's trial and has since voluntarily defended prisoners of conscience in the Gulf state.

"Authorities in Qatar prevented... Nuaimi from travelling without informing him about any possible reasons," the Gulf Centre for Human Rights said in a statement.

It said he had been placed on a list of individuals banned from leaving the state, without giving "prior clarification or directing any charges against him".

One of Nuaimi's clients, poet Mohamed Rashid al-Ajami, was given a life sentence in 2011 for a poem he wrote criticising the Gulf state's ruler, which authorities said incited violence against the state.

Ajami was released in 2016 after serving more than four years in jail.

Nuaimi was also head of an international committee in 2003 to defend suspected Islamist militants imprisoned by the US military in Guantanamo.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights urged Qatar to revoke the travel ban "immediately and without any conditions", and to guarantee rights defenders in Qatar the freedom to operate "without fear of reprisals".

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