Qatar World Cup: Norwegian journalists arrested for reporting on workers’ conditions
Halvor Ekeland and Lokman Ghorbani, journalists for Norwegian Broadcasting Co. (NRK), was detained by Qatari police late Sunday night, according to a statement sent to CNN from NRK.
They were released early Tuesday morning and flown back to Norway early Wednesday morning.
NRK told CNN that Ekeland and Ghorbani were in Qatar to mark the one-year mark before the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and their news “included interviews and questions about the conditions of workers in the country.” this.”
According to a statement from the Government Communications Office of the State of Qatar, Ekeland and Ghorbani were detained for “infringing on personal property and filming without a permit.”
“Authorities detained the crew in their hotel after responding to a complaint by the owner of a private property that the crew had unlawfully accessed,” the statement said. “The crew was released on November 23 at the earliest after completing the necessary legal procedures.
“As in most countries, trespassing is a violation of Qatari law, which the crew members were fully aware of before entering the property. The crew were allowed to film wherever they wanted to stay. Qatar They were provided with all the filming permits they requested prior to their arrival and were asked to meet with high-ranking government and third-party officials. without prejudice to the application of common law which the crew knowingly and intentionally violates.As a result of these violations, the crew is temporarily detained.
“Qatar’s record in media freedom speaks for itself. Every year Qatar welcomes hundreds of international journalists and NGOs to report freely in the country. No journalists have been detained yet. when the laws of Qatar are respected.”
NRK’s general manager, Thor Gjermund Eriksen, said he disagreed with the Qatari’s description of events.
“NRK employees have behaved completely in accordance with the principles and ethics of Journalism. We disagree with the description of journalists’ activities given in the statement issued by the Office of Communications. announced by the Government of Qatar on November 24,” he said in a statement sent to CNN.
“Even if the Qatari authorities believe that the journalists have broken any rules, the treatment they are given is unacceptable. The detention of the journalists and the confiscation of all Their equipment is in any case completely against the law. It threatens the free and independent press and creates a serious chilling effect for all journalists visiting Qatar.”
Eriksen went on to call the situation “very serious,” especially since “two of our employees have been arrested and questioned in connection with their journalism.”
In a statement sent to CNN, FIFA said it “defends the principles of media freedom.”
“We have been in regular contact with local organizers (Supreme Commission on Deliveries & Heritage) and NRK to ascertain the situation of the detention of an NRK crew in Doha in recent days,” a FIFA spokesman told CNN in a statement.
“We note the statement by the Government Communications Office in Qatar that the crew ‘intentionally and intentionally’ broke the law by trespassing on personal property before they were released without charge. FIFA will continue to liaise with NRK and SC, who have collaborated with, and supported, the crew during their time in Doha.”
“The government has been transparent about the health of our expatriates and in fact the death rate in Qatar is on par with the broader demographic globally. However, improving health and well-being of foreign workers remains the top priority,” the ministry added.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino told CNN that, while there is still much work to be done, he has seen “major evolution” in the Gulf country.
“Of course, more needs to be done – obviously, it’s a process. I think we can say that without the World Cup and… the spotlight coming from the World Cup, the whole process wouldn’t be. take more time.
“Steps have been taken, steps will be taken. I think we also need to recognize the positives if we are to encourage those who have followed a path like Qatar to continue in that way. what has worked, look at the facts Facts and figures also offer the necessary criticism, but always try to be constructive and see what has worked and what can be done more in a positive sense.”
Set to be the first World Cup to be held in winter, the 2022 edition will kick off in Qatar on November 21 and end on December 18.
Becky Thompson contributed to this report.