Two journalists detained in Qatar while reporting on worker issues leading up to World Cup

Mohamed bin Hamad Al-Thani, left, Chairman of the 2022 bid committee, and Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of Qatar, hold the World Cup trophy in front of FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke after the announcement that Qatar will host the 2022 soccer World Cup, on Dec. 2, 2010, in Zurich, Switzerland. 

Qatar reportedly detained two Norwegian journalists who were filming working conditions in the country during the run-up to next year’s World Cup for more than 30 hours before releasing them on Wednesday.

Citing concerns with trespassing and filming without a permit, police in Qatar arrested Halvor Ekeland, a sports journalist, and Lokman Ghorbani, a photographer, both with the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK), and deleted the footage the pair had captured of a migrant labor camp, The Associated Press reported.

Though the journalists were released, the arrest sparked a diplomatic confrontation between Norway and Qatar. Norwegian Prime Minster Jonas Gahr Stoere wrote on Twitter the arrests were “unacceptable,” while NRK told the AP their reporters were harshly intimidated.

“Even if the Qatari authorities believe the journalists broke any rules, the treatment they were given is not acceptable,” NRK said. “The detention of the journalists and the confiscation of all their equipment are in any case completely out of proportion. It threatens free and independent journalism and creates a serious chilling effect for all journalists visiting Qatar.”

Qatar maintains the journalists did not have written permission to film the labor camp in the country’s industrial area, even though they had applied for approval. Ekeland and Ghorbani told the AP they had verbal permission to film there.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup will begin in November 2022.

Qatar, a nation labeled as “not free” by the organization Freedom House, has been accused of exploiting a large number of migrants to build large venues for the upcoming world event.

Human rights group Amnesty International has said thousands of migrant workers have died in Qatar in the past decade.

Tags detaining journalists Dubai FIFA FIFA World Cup Free speech restriction Halvor Ekeland imprisonment Lokman Ghorbani migrant workers Norway Qatar World Cup World Cup
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