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Norwegian journalists arrested while reporting at World Cup host, Qatar

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Two Norwegian state television journalists were arrested and held for more than 30 hours in Qatar while reporting on the World Cup, network NRK he said Wednesday.

Halvor Ekeland and Lokman Ghorbani, who NRK said he had been to the host nation of the 2022 World Cup as it marked a year earlier footballlargest tournament were reportedly detained at their hotel after previously reporting on the condition of migrant labor.

The arrests threatened to become a diplomatic incident, as Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere tweeted that “the arrest of NRK journalists in Qatar is unacceptable. A free press is essential for the functioning of democracy ”.

The Qatari government said the couple were arrested for breaking and entering.

They were arrested on Sunday night and released on Tuesday. The couple, Ekeland is a writer and Ghorabni, a photographer, are now back home.

Ekeland told the Norwegian tabloid VG that they were happy to be in Norway and that “we had a bad time”.

Journalists said NRK that they were not allowed to go out with their team. The Norwegian Union of Journalists criticized the arrest of the reporters.

“It is quite good to be back on Norwegian soil,” Ekeland told reporters upon arrival at Oslo airport. “It’s been a tough few days, but we knew there were a lot of people working for us, so it was good.”

He added: “We were held for 32 hours.”

In a statement to NRK, Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said that “they were arrested while performing their duties as journalists.”

“Freedom of expression is the pillar of a functioning democracy, and it is also essential to be able to fulfill other human rights,” he said.

The couple had to interview Abdullah Ibais, a former World Cup organizing committee worker in Qatar, who is currently in jail on charges of embezzlement and bribery. Ibais maintains that he has been jailed for publicly criticizing the treatment of workers in Qatar.

The Norwegians are not the first journalists arrested during their visit to Qatar.

In 2015, a BBC The journalist was also arrested for trespassing after being invited to the Gulf state to report on the conditions of the workers.

The 2022 World Cup begins on November 21 next year. Over the weekend there were celebrations in Doha to mark the countdown, attended by a number of celebrities, including David Beckham, who is believed to have signed a contract to be a World Cup ambassador.

Qatar has come under intense global scrutiny since it was controversially selected by FIFA to host the World Cup.

It has faced corruption allegations surrounding its winning bid, Doha claims, as well as widespread criticism of its treatment of the nearly two million migrant workers in the country, helping prepare the country for next year’s tournament.

Norway He has been one of the biggest critics of the decision to give the wealthy Gulf state the World Cup and has even talked about boycotting the event, but his national team has been eliminated from the tournament in qualifying.

A statement from the Qatari government communications office said: “As in almost all countries, illegal entry is against Qatari law, of which the crew members were fully aware before entering the property. .

“The team was given access to the film wherever they wanted in Qatar. They were provided with all the filming permits they had requested prior to their arrival and were offered meetings with senior government officials and third parties.

“These freedoms, however, do not override the application of customary law, which the crew knowingly and deliberately violated. As a result of these violations, the crew was temporarily detained. “

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