Qatar Invites Journalist, Then Arrests Him

BBC reporter Mark Lobel says officials held his team for days
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2015 5:35 PM CDT
Qatar Invites Journalist, Then Arrests Him
In this May 3, 2015 photo taken during a government media tour, a man from India speaks to journalists while sitting on his bed in a room he shares with seven other Indian laborers in Doha, Qatar.   (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)

Curious about a career in journalism? Consider saving your trip to Qatar for later: A BBC journalist says authorities invited his team there and later arrested them for trying to see the conditions of migrant workers. "Our arrest was dramatic," writes Mark Lobel at the BBC. He says eight cars cut them off on the way to see workers who are constructing buildings ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The journalists were frisked, stripped of equipment, interrogated, imprisoned for more than four days, and never charged, Lobel says. "This is not Disneyland," an interrogator reportedly snapped at him. "You can't stick your camera anywhere."

Amazingly, Qatar had invited them to see migrant workers and dispel notions that they're being abused. The Qatari government claims that Lobel's team went off on their own to witness workers' conditions, rather than take the official tour; indeed, when released, the reporters were shown "spacious and comfortable villas for construction workers, with swimming pools, gyms and welfare officers," Lobel writes. And this isn't an isolated case: German reporters were recently arrested and held for 14 hours there for pretty much the same reasons, the Washington Post reports. "And as Qatar's World Cup approaches, the focus on migrant labour is only likely to increase," Lobel writes. (Read more Qatar stories.)

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