Qatari regime invites BBC journalists, then jails them

This video says about itself:

“A 21st Century slave state” | Qatar World Cup 2022

16 June 2014

Contains some upsetting images.

In light of the controversy surrounding Qatar being awarded the 2022 World CupESPN E:60 delves behind the scenes to get an eye-opening insight into one of the more damning consequences of FIFA’s decision– the problems faced by migrant workers in Qatar.

By Kadeem Simmonds in Britain:

Journalists held in Qatari prison

Tuesday 19th May 2015

BBC crew invited by PM then arrested and interrogated

Media workers were outraged yesterday after BBC journalists were invited to Qatar by the prime minister only to be snatched off the streets for “trespassing.”

BBC Middle East business correspondent Mark Lobel was in Doha in early May to see new flagship accommodation for low-paid migrant workers but was then arrested — along with the cameraman, translator and driver — and then interrogated.

Lobel said he was told he wouldn’t be allowed a phone call and that they were being held as a matter of national security.

He was then shown pictures of himself and his team, showing they they had been spied on since the moment they entered the country. Their equipment was seized from them and has yet to be returned.

Speaking to the Star, National Union of Journalists general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “It’s an outrage that BBC journalists were imprisoned in Qatar for doing their job, it’s a terrible indictment of the government’s approach to press freedom. The seized equipment and belongings must be returned immediately.

“The arrests show a shocking level of hostility towards media workers, even in the face of their invitation as part of a PR trip.

“The journalists were put under surveillance and their detention serves as a warning for all media organisations planning to cover the World Cup. “Assurances must be given by the authorities that they will in future respect press freedom and not let this happen again.”

“It was meant to be the first day of our PR tour but instead we were later handcuffed and taken to be questioned for a second time, at the department of public prosecutions,” Lobel said on the BBC website.

“Thirteen hours of waiting around and questioning later, one of the interrogators snapped: ‘This is not Disneyland. You can’t stick your camera anywhere.’ In perfect English and with more than a touch of malice, he threatened us with another four days in prison — to teach us a lesson.”

But since their release, the Qatari government have said that the journalists were trespassing on private property and breaking the law.

“By trespassing on private property and running afoul of Qatari laws, the BBC reporter made himself the story,” the Qatar government said.

“We sincerely hope that this was not his intention. Moreover, we deeply regret that he was unable to report the real story, which is that the government and the private sector are making significant progress in efforts to improve the lives and the labour conditions of guest workers in Qatar.”

Fifa said they were investigating the incident. “Any instance relating to an apparent restriction of press freedom is of concern to Fifa and will be looked into with the seriousness it deserves,” it said in a statement.

7 thoughts on “Qatari regime invites BBC journalists, then jails them

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