The security forces of Qatar They detained two journalists from Norwegian state television for 30 hours and deleted videos they filmed in a migrant worker camp while preparing a report on labor issues related to the 2022 World Cup, authorities reported.
The Qatari government accused the journalists Halvor Ekeland and Lokman Ghorbani, from NRK, from “Entering private property and filming without permission.”
The two journalists were released and returned on Wednesday to Norway, whose Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said his arrests had been “unacceptable.”
“A free press is vital in a democracy”, Gahr Stoere wrote on Twitter.
The Norwegian news agency NTB said the Qatari ambassador in Oslo was asked to appear at the Norwegian foreign ministry to discuss the matter.
The arrests, one year from the World Cup to be played in Qatar, reflect the restlessness of the autocratic Qatari government. Other journalists also faced similar situations and arrests while reporting on this small and wealthy nation on the Arabian peninsula.
Ekeland, who is a sports journalist, and Ghorbani, who is a photographer, They were allegedly arrested after making a live broadcast about the conditions of migrant workers.
The journalists told NRL that they were not allowed to take their equipment.
“They were tough days, but we knew there were a lot of people who cared about us”, Ekeland said. “They held us for 32 hours.”
Speaking to NRL, Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said “they were arrested while doing their job as journalists.”
“Freedom of expression is a pillar of any democracy that works and fundamental to be able to fulfill other human rights”added.
The Qatari government said in a statement that the Norwegians had been detained after receiving a complaint from a private property owner who was not identified in the country’s industrial sector, where there are worker camps. He indicated that Ekeland had applied for permission to film, but that it had not yet been granted.
He admitted that the filmed material had been erased, “in accordance with Qatari law”, given that they did not have the corresponding permission.
The treatment of migrant workers has given much to talk about since Qatar won the World Cup.