WITHTwo journalists from the Norwegian state television network NRK have been detained in Qatar by security forces for over 30 hours. In addition, footage that they had taken in a migrant labor camp was deleted, the Norwegian authorities announced on Wednesday. Halvor Ekeland and Lokman Ghorbani were reportedly arrested after reporting the situation of guest workers ahead of the 2022 World Cup during live coverage.
According to NRK, they were arrested on Sunday evening shortly before their return flight. Qatar’s government announced that the two had been taken into custody on Monday morning for illegally entering and filming private property. The arrest was made after a complaint from the property owner. The two were released without charge after the legal proceedings were completed. They “knowingly and intentionally” violated the law. The Qatari government said that they had been given all of the filming permits they had registered prior to their arrival.
On Wednesday morning Ekeland and Ghorbani landed back in Norway. “It is very good to be back home,” said Ekeland: “The days were challenging, but we knew that many were working for us.” Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said the arrest of the two was “unacceptable. A free press is essential for a functioning democracy, ”Støre wrote on Twitter. “This also shows how important this year’s awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize (to journalists) is. I am very happy that Halvor Ekeland and Lokman Ghorbani have now been released. ”Both the Norwegian Journalists ‘Union and the Norwegian Football Association criticized the journalists’ arrest. In addition, the Qatari ambassador to Norway was summoned.
The President of the Norwegian Olympic Committee, Berit Kjoll, called the detention “shocking and completely unacceptable”: “We have to stop giving large sports competitions to countries that do not respect freedom of the press and freedom of expression,” said Kjoll. The Norwegian national soccer team missed the qualification for the tournament (November 21 to December 18, 2022).
In a report published the week before, Amnesty International once again criticized widespread violations of the rights of migrant workers a year before the start of the soccer World Cup. Qatar does not rigorously implement reforms, does not monitor their implementation and does not hold those responsible for violations accountable. Migrant workers continue to be at the mercy of unscrupulous employers. Thousands of them had been exploited and died on Qatar construction sites over the past decade.