By Joanne Bladd
Pair held against their will after arrest for filming in emirate, says Swiss channel RTS
Swiss television channel RTS has claimed two of its sports reporters were held against their will for nearly two weeks in Qatar, without charge.
The journalist and cameraman were detained for 13 days “without receiving a clear explanation of what they were accused of," RTS said in a statement to newswire AFP.
The pair were filming a documentary on football in Qatar, the host nation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, before their arrest.
According to RTS, the two were filming “landscape shots,” when they were arrested, taken to a local police station and interrogated for several hours.
They were eventually brought before a judge in Doha where "they had to pay a fine, without receiving either a report about their offence or a receipt,” RTS said.
The camera was confiscated and the pair were freed, but were not given official authorisation to leave Qatar.
“Before leaving for the country, the Qatar embassy in Geneva had told them that they could film freely,” the channel said.
“The arbitrary conduct of the Qatari police constitutes a serious violation of press liberty," said Massimo Lorenzi, head of sports at RTS. The incident would be reported to FIFA and all responsible authorities, he said.
According to reports they were filming in Mesaieed, which is one of Qatar's two key industrial cities. Had they taken the initiative to check with any Press members in the country they would have been advised to either get a special permit for photography in that area or refrain from filming there. Security is so tight because it is potentially a very soft terrorist target, with its hydrocarbon fuelled industries.
When foreign ships come into port in Mesaieed and Ras Laffan the master is advised to "lock away" all cameras while in port.
What have "landscape shots" around a secure industrial city to do with football?
Naive in the extreme...
Are you joking??Unless u ask the right question u wonâ€™t b told the answer in many developing countries as this article shows.These journalists sought clarification &approval from the Embassy before travel,however, the Embassy failed to inform them you can film freely, however, with restrictions.In the developed world if freedoms are restricted we are informed through signs/notifications &explanations are provided, and it is not left to trial and error-common sense prevailing. In a lot of developing countries there is sometimes a lack the â€˜educationâ€™ of forward thinking and therefore one has to ask the right(specific) questions(all and every questions!) in order to ensure you are conforming to all the rules and regulations (& not just from the authorities who might not know themselves such as it appears in this case!)These journalists were not naÃ¯ve at all,merely acting in the same way they would have done in a developed country after confirming with the authorities they can film freely.
They came in with a tourist visa, not a business visa. They were not held for 13 days and they could have left soon after their release for questioning. They did not have any filming permits and I actually think that they should now tell the true story....
Agree with you Tom. In the West the assumption that advice given by the Qatar Embassy could be taken as fact. But as anyone knows who has experience this region, almost every aspect of Qatar workings is full of disorganization, lack of understanding. It's not really surprising and I expect as Qatar is more exposed to the world in the run up to the World Cup that a lot more of these sorts of things will transpire. Money can't buy sophistication!
The problem, Tom, is that just because you would do something one way in 'The West', doesn't mean you would do it the same way in Qatar.
Clearly, as this whole incident demonstrates, Qatar is not part of 'the West'.
There are some serious questions now hanging over Qatar regarding the world cup.