Qatar says no expulsions of nationals from countries that cut ties, denies its charities fund terrorism

A man walks past a charity billboard in the Qatari capital, Doha, on June 9, 2017.
A man walks past a charity billboard in the Qatari capital, Doha, on June 9, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

RIYADH (Reuters) - Nationals of countries that cut diplomatic ties with Qatar this week are free to remain in the Gulf state in line with existing regulations, according to a statement carried by Qatar state news agency QNA on Saturday (June 10).

The statement, attributed to the Ministry of Interior, said there was no change in policy toward the nationals of "brotherly and friendly countries which cut or reduced diplomatic relations following the malicious and hostile campaigns against Qatar."

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar in a coordinated move on Monday, accusing it of supporting Islamist militants and arch-foe Iran in the Gulf's worst diplomatic stand-off in years.

The three Gulf states severed transit links and gave Qatari visitors and residents two weeks to leave their countries. Most severely, the United Arab Emirates barred Qataris from catching connecting flights through its airports.

The rift has separated families and severed commercial links, prompting concerns among foreign workers - particularly Egyptians, who make up one of the largest expatriate contingents in Qatar - about their ability to stay.

The countries have also tightened their squeeze on Qatar by putting dozens of figures and charities they link to the country on terrorism blacklists. Their moves have been backed by US President Donald Trump.

Qatar’s official overseer of charities on Sunday denied that philanthropic groups in the country backed terrorism.  

“The Regulatory Authority for Charitable Activities deplores the accusation that Qatari humanitarian organisations support terrorism,” the body said in an official statement.

The authority has succeeded in protecting NGOs based in Doha “from the risk of being exploited to launder money and finance terrorism,” it said.  

Trump on Friday accused Qatar of being a “high level”sponsor of terrorism.

“We have to stop the funding of terrorism. I decided ... the time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday.