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

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Halvor Ekeland and Lokman Ghorbani, journalists for the Norwegian Broadcasting Co. (NRK), were arrested by police in Qatar late Sunday night time, in accordance with an announcement despatched to CNN from NRK.

According to each journalists’ accounts, they were questioned for eight hours in separate rooms, one by one, they were not ill-treated but they were put in a cell with 10-12 others and were made to signal a doc in Arabic they couldn’t perceive.

They were launched with out cost early Tuesday morning and flew again to Norway early Wednesday morning.

NRK informed CNN that Ekeland and Ghorbani were in Qatar to cowl the one-year mark earlier than the FIFA World Cup 2022, and their protection “included interviews and questions about workers’ conditions in the country.”

According to an announcement from the Government Communications Office of the State of Qatar, Ekeland and Ghorbani were taken into custody for “trespassing on private property and filming without a permit.”

“The authorities arrested the crew in their hotel after responding to a complaint made by the owner of the private property on which the crew had illegally accessed,” the assertion stated. “The crew were released without charge early on 23 November after completing the necessary legal procedures.

“As in nearly each nation, trespassing is in opposition to Qatari regulation, which the crew members were totally conscious of earlier than coming into the property. The crew were given entry to movie wherever they wished in Qatar. They were supplied with all of the filming permits they had requested previous to their arrival and were supplied conferences with senior authorities and third-party officers. These freedoms, nonetheless, don’t override the applying of widespread regulation, which the crew knowingly and willfully violated. As a end result of these violations, the crew were quickly 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. No journalist has ever been detained when Qatar’s laws have been respected.”

NRK’s director normal Thor Gjermund Eriksen stated he disagreed with the Qatari description of occasions.

“NRK’s employees behaved totally in line with the principles and ethics of Journalism. We disagree with the description of the journalists’ activity made in the statement published by the Qatari Government Communications Office on November 24th,” he stated in an announcement despatched to CNN.

“Even if the Qatari authorities believe the journalists broke any rules, the treatment they were given is not acceptable. 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.”

Eriksen went on to name the scenario “very serious,” specifically when “two of our employees have been arrested and interrogated in connection with their journalistic work.”

In an announcement despatched to CNN, FIFA stated it “defends the principles of media freedom.”

“We have been in regular contact with local organizers (Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy) and NRK to establish the circumstances of the detention of an NRK crew in Doha in recent days,” a FIFA spokesperson informed CNN in an announcement.

Ghorbani (far left) and Ekeland (second left) chat with the press alongside NRK sports director Egil Sundvor and broadcasting director of NRK Thor Gjermund Eriksen in Oslo on November 24.

“We note the statement by the Government Communications Office in Qatar that states the crew ‘knowingly and willfully’ violated the law by trespassing on private property before they were released without charge. FIFA will remain in further contact with NRK and the SC, who collaborated with, and assisted, the crew during their time in Doha.”

It comes after final week’s International Labour Organization (ILO) report which stated that at the very least 50 of Qatar’s employees died in 2020, stating that the nation was inadequately investigating these office deaths. Non-governmental organizations have alleged that migrant employees concerned in World Cup infrastructure initiatives have been mistreated and abused.
Qatar’s Ministry of Labour stated in an announcement that “figures reported in media on migrant worker fatalities have been wildly misleading.”

“The government has been transparent about the health of our foreign population, and in reality, levels of mortality in Qatar are on par with wider demographics globally. Still, improving the health and well-being of foreign workers remains a top priority,” the Ministry added.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino informed CNN that, whereas there’s nonetheless work to be achieved, he has seen “great evolution” within the Gulf nation.

“I’ve seen the great evolution that has happened in Qatar, which was recognized — I mean not by FIFA — but by labor unions around the world, by international organizations,” Infantino informed CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies.
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“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 would have been taking much more time.

“Steps have been made, steps will probably be made. I believe we want additionally to acknowledge the positives if we wish to encourage those that have embraced a manner like Qatar is to proceed in that manner, acknowledge what has been achieved, take a look at the concrete information and figures make the required criticisms as nicely, but all the time attempt to be constructive and to see what has been achieved and what might be achieved extra in a optimistic sense.”

Set to be the primary ever World Cup staged within the winter, the 2022 version is ready to kick-off in Qatar on November 21 and conclude on December 18.

Becky Thompson contributed to this report.



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