Norwegian broadcaster slams treatment of its journalists reporting on World Cup but Qatar says they were trespassing illegally

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Norwegian Broadcasting Company (NRK) journalists Halvor Ekland and Lokman Ghorbani were arrested by police in Qatar late on Sunday, according to a statement sent from NRK to Granthshala.

According In the accounts of both journalists, they were interrogated for eight hours in different rooms, one at a time, they were not treated badly, but were kept in a cell with 10-12 other people and were given a sentence in Arabic. Asked to sign the document. can not understand.
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He was released without charge on Tuesday morning and flew to Norway in the early hours of Wednesday.

NRK told Granthshala that Eckland and Ghorbani were in Qatar to cover the one-year mark ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2022, and that their coverage “included interviews and questions about the conditions of workers in the country.”


Ekland and Ghorbani were detained for “encroachment on private property and filming without a permit”, according to a statement from the Qatar State Government Communications Office.

“After responding to a complaint made by the owner of the private property, the authorities arrested the crew at their hotel, to which the crew had illegally entered,” the statement said. “The crew was released without charge at the beginning of 23 November after completing the necessary legal procedures.

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“As in almost every country, trespassing is against Qatari law, which the crew members were fully aware of before entering the property. The crew was given access to the film wherever they wanted in Qatar. They were provided with all filming permits they requested. Prior to their arrival and were offered meetings with senior government and third party officials, however, these freedoms did not override the application of common law. which was deliberately and willfully violated by the crew. As a result of these violations, the crew were temporarily detained.

“Qatar’s track record on media freedom speaks for itself. Qatar welcomes hundreds of international journalists and NGOs every year to report freely in the country. Has never been taken into custody.”

NRK Director General Thor Germund Eriksson said he disagreed with the Qatari description of the events.

In a statement sent to Granthshala, he said, “NRK staff behaved in accordance with journalistic principles and ethics. We disagree with the details of the journalists’ activity in a statement published by the Qatari Government Communications Office on November 24.”

“Even if the Qatari authorities believe that the journalists broke any rules, the treatment they were treated with is not acceptable. The detention of journalists and the confiscation of all their equipment is in any case completely It is a threat to free and independent journalism and creates a serious chilling effect for all journalists visiting Qatar.”

Ericsson called the situation “very serious”, especially as “two of our employees have been arrested and questioned in connection with their journalistic work.”

In a statement sent to Granthshala, FIFA said it “defends the principles of media freedom.”

A FIFA spokesman said in a statement to Granthshala: “We have been in regular contact with local organizers (the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Heritage) and the NRK to establish the circumstances of the detention of an NRK crew in Doha in recent days.” are in.”

“We note the statement of the Office of Government Communications in Qatar which said that the crew ‘willfully and knowingly’ violated the law by encroaching upon private property prior to their release without charge. With FIFA NRK & SC Will be in further contact with those who collaborated with the crew during their time in Doha, and provided assistance.”

This Comes This follows last week’s International Labor Organization (ILO) report, which said at least 50 Qatari workers died in 2020, suggesting that the country was investigating these workplace deaths insufficiently. NGOs have alleged that migrant workers involved in World Cup infrastructure projects have been abused and abused.
Qatar’s Ministry of Labor said In a statement that “the figures reported in the media on the deaths of migrant workers are wildly misleading.”

“The government has been transparent about the health of our foreign population, and in fact, the death rate in Qatar is comparable to that of the broadest demographic globally. Nevertheless, improving the health and welfare of foreign workers remains a top priority,” the ministry said. added.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino told Granthshala that, while there is still work to be done, he has seen “great development” in the Gulf country.

“I have seen great development in Qatar, which was recognized – I do not mean FIFA – but by labor unions around the world, by international organizations,” Infantino said Granthshala Sport’s Amanda Davis.

“Of course, more needs to be done – obviously, it is a process. I think we can say that without the World Cup and… the headlines coming from the World Cup, the whole process would have taken a lot longer. .

“Steps have been taken, steps will be taken. I think we also need to recognize the positivity if we want to encourage those who have continued in this way like Qatar, recognize what has been done, concrete See facts and figures make necessary criticism too, but always try to be constructive and see what has been done and what more can be done in a positive sense.”

The first World Cup to be held in winter, the 2022 edition is scheduled to begin in Qatar on 21 November and end on 18 December.

Becky Thompson contributed to this report.


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