OSLO: Two Norwegian reporters were arrested by police in Qatar this week and held in detention for some 30 hours, their employer said on Wednesday, drawing criticism of the Gulf nation from Norway’s prime minister.
Journalists Halvor Ekeland and Lokman Ghorbani were in Qatar to report on preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, public broadcaster NRK said.
Qatar’s hosting of the quadrennial football tournament, the first by a Middle East country, has been controversial, casting a spotlight on conditions for migrant workers, LGBTQ+ rights and allegations of corruption.
“The arrest of NRK’s journalists in Qatar is unacceptable. A free press is crucial to a functioning democracy,” Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said in a tweet.
Ekeland and Ghorbani were released on Tuesday and left the country shortly after, NRK said. Their equipment had been confiscated however, the broadcaster added. The reporters arrived in Oslo earlier on Wednesday.
Norwegian news agency NTB later reported that the Qatari ambassador to the country was summoned to Oslo’s foreign ministry over the matter.
Qatar defended the arrests, adding that the reporters had been detained following complaints of trespassing by the owner of a private property.
Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2021