Two journalists from Norwegian public broadcasters NRK returned home on Wednesday after being detained for 30 hours in Qatar while reporting on migrant worker issues in the host nation of the 2022 World Cup.
Journalists Halvor Ekeland and Lokman Ghorbani had been in Qatar as the country on Sunday marked one year to go to the November 21-December 18, 2022 World Cup in the Arab country.
Qatar has come under increased pressure again over the treatment of migrant workers in the country, with human rights organizations saying that despite reforms a lot more needs to be done.
The two Norwegians were reportedly arrested Monday morning while reporting live from a migrant camp, and footage was deleted from their equipment.
Qatar‘s government accused them of “trespassing on private property and filming without a permit,” saying a not identified private property owner called the police.
Qatar insisted the Norwegians had been granted permits for all their other journalistic activities in the country.
Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere named the arrests “unacceptable” in a message on Twitter.
“A free press is crucial in a functioning democracy. This also shows the importance of this year’s awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize (to journalists). I am very happy that Halvor Ekeland and Lokman Ghorbani have been released,” he said.
The Norwegian football federation and Norwegian journalist union also condemned the arrests.
“It is very good to be home again in Norway now, on Norwegian soil. The days have been challenging, but we knew that many people were working for us,” Ekeland said in an NRK report, adding they will talk about the incident at a later date.