BBC reporter Mark Lobel and a team of journalists have been arrested in Qatar for reporting on low-paid migrant workers ahead of the World Cup in 2022.
Lobel stated, “We were invited to Qatar by the prime minister’s office to see new flagship accommodation for low-paid migrant workers in early May – but while gathering additional material for our report, we ended up being thrown into prison for doing our jobs. Our arrest was dramatic.”
“They took away our equipment and hard drives and drove us to their headquarters. Later, in the city’s main police station, the cameraman, translator, driver and I were interrogated separately by intelligence officers. The questioning was hostile.”
Marc Lobel and the other journalists were later imprisoned for 2 nights.
Qatari government statement, 18 May:
“The Government Communications Office invited a dozen reporters to see – first-hand – some sub-standard labour accommodation as well as some of the newer labour villages. We gave the reporters free rein to interview whomever they chose and to roam unaccompanied in the labour villages.
“Perhaps anticipating that the government would not provide this sort of access, the BBC crew decided to do their own site visits and interviews in the days leading up to the planned tour. In doing so, they trespassed on private property, which is against the law in Qatar just as it is in most countries. Security forces were called and the BBC crew was detained.”
“We are pleased that the BBC team has been released but we deplore the fact that they were detained in the first place. Their presence in Qatar was no secret and they were engaged in a perfectly proper piece of journalism.
“The Qatari authorities have made a series of conflicting allegations to justify the detention, all of which the team rejects. We are pressing the Qatari authorities for a full explanation and for the return of the confiscated equipment.”
Bizarrely on the morning of their release, they were allowed to join the organised press trip for which they had come.
Lobel: “It was as if nothing had happened, despite the fact that our kit was still impounded, and we were banned from leaving the country. I can only report on what has happened now that our travel ban has been lifted. No charges were brought, but our belongings have still not been returned.”
The full story can be found on the BBC website.