Qatar apologizes, investigates forced airport examinations

DUBAI: Qatar apologized Wednesday after authorities forcibly examined female passengers from a Qatar Airways flight to Sydney to try to identify who might have given birth to an abandoned newborn baby, even as Australia said it was only one of 10 flights subjected to the searches.

Under pressure after Australia condemned the searches, Qatar said it had begun an investigation into the treatment of the women who were taking Qatar Airways Flight 908 on Oct. 2.

Human rights activists describe such examinations conducted under duress as equivalent to sexual assault.

The small, energy-rich country on the Arabian Peninsula is a major hub for East-West travel and host nation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Hamad International Airport is the main hub for state-owned long-haul carrier Qatar Airways. - AP