FirstFT: Eight Indians sentenced to death in Qatar on charges of spying for Israel

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Good morning. Qatar has sentenced eight Indian former naval officers to death after finding them guilty of spying on the Gulf state’s submarine programme for Israel.

The Indian government “expressed deep shock” at the verdict, adding that “all legal options are being explored”.

The convictions come as the Qatari government plays a crucial role in brokering negotiations between Israel and Hamas to secure the release of civilian hostages captured by the Palestinian militant group during its October 7 assault on the Jewish state. Here’s what’s at stake in a potential diplomatic dispute between New Delhi and Doha.

And here is a deeper read on Qatar’s intermediary role in the Israel-Hamas war, along with our latest coverage of the conflict:

  • ‘Targeted raid’: Israeli forces carried out a “targeted raid” in the north of the Gaza Strip, as they stepped up preparations for a ground operation in the coastal enclave.

  • Israel’s war cabinet: These five men make up the war cabinet set up by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to oversee Israel’s war with Hamas.

  • Bodies pile up in Gaza: Palestinian families of those killed in Israeli strikes have been denied traditional funerals as authorities resort to using mass graves.

Here’s what I’m also keeping tabs on today and over the weekend:

  • Nomura results: Japan’s biggest investment bank reports quarterly earnings amid an overhaul of its lossmaking China business.

  • Economic data: Japan publishes October trade figures.

  • G7 meeting: Trade ministers of the member nations will meet on Saturday in Osaka, Japan.

How well did you keep up with the news this week? Take our quiz.

Five more top stories

1. Sam Bankman-Fried said he believed he was complying with legal advice when he allowed his hedge fund Alameda to borrow customer funds from his FTX exchange. The judge overseeing Bankman-Fried’s criminal trial heard snippets of the founder’s testimony without the jury present and will later decide what evidence can be repeated in front of jurors when they return on Friday.

2. Beijing is putting the final touches to a powerful Communist party commission that will oversee the country’s financial sector regulation, recruiting nearly 100 officials ahead of an economic policy meeting next week. Here’s how the new super-regulator will strengthen President Xi Jinping’s control over China’s $61tn financial sector.

3. The US economy expanded faster than expected in the third quarter, growing at its quickest pace in almost two years. The growth data is the latest sign of economic resilience despite high interest rates

4. Goldman Sachs is setting up an institute to analyse geopolitics and technology, the latest firm to bet on demand from companies for advice on how to navigate a disorderly world. After Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine caught a number of businesses unprepared for the fallout, companies around the world are taking steps to boost their geopolitical expertise.

5. Stellantis will invest €1.5bn to acquire about 20 per cent of Chinese electric vehicle start-up Leapmotor, in a fresh attempt to crack China’s car market and capitalise on what it called a Chinese “offensive” in other regions. The European carmaker will form a new joint venture to sell Leapmotor’s electric vehicles outside China. Here’s more on Stellantis’ renewed push to make inroads in China.

News in-depth

© FT montage/Bloomberg/Dreamstime

When Terry Gou announced his intention to run for president of his native Taiwan, the billionaire founder of Foxconn argued that China could not touch him or his company. Now, Beijing has called his bluff on that boast, launching an investigation into the Apple iPhone maker over tax and land use. Taiwanese officials say the probe smacks of a politically motivated crackdown, while analysts see a potential watershed moment in China’s relationship with international investors.

We’re also reading . . . 

  • Appeasing Putin: Each western country had its own incentive to misread the Russian president. They’ll do it again, writes Simon Kuper.

  • Japanese carmakers: The industry increasingly looks like it’s waiting for a miracle, writes Leo Lewis. Whether solid-state batteries can be that miracle is the trillion-dollar question.

  • Driverless cars: Generative AI should follow the signals from autonomous vehicles that behave better on the roads than we do, writes Gillian Tett.

Chart of the day

A hurricane of record intensity smashed into the Mexican coast near the resort of Acapulco on Wednesday and left at least 27 people dead. The extraordinarily fast rate at which the storm strengthened to a Category 5 hurricane presented a “nightmare scenario” for southern Mexico, according to the US National Hurricane Center.

Hurricane Otis developed from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane in 24 hours. Chart showing wind speed of Hurricane Otis from October 22 to October 25. Winds intensified from 100kmh to 270kmh in 24 hours

Take a break from the news

Here are our six films to watch this week, including Beyond Utopia, a documentary that follows North Korean defectors and offers startling insights into the prison state.

Escapers from North Korea tell their stories in ‘Beyond Utopia’
Escapers from North Korea tell their stories in ‘Beyond Utopia’

Additional contributions from Gary Jones and Gordon Smith

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