Danish television crew detained by Qatari authorities

Qatari security forces on May 5, 2016, detained three journalists for the state-run Danish Broadcasting Corporation, one of the detained journalists, Niels Borchert Holm, told the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Holm and two of his colleagues, correspondent Rasmus Horskjaer and photographer Mads Nielsen, had entered Qatar the day before to report on migrant workers ahead of the 2022 World Cup, Holm wrote for the state broadcaster’s website.

On May 5, the crew drove to Labor City, on the outskirts of Doha, to film the Workers Cup, a soccer tournament for migrant workers. Security officials ordered them to follow them to a nearby police station soon after they arrived. The crew was accused of filming without permission, even though they had already received permission from the government’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, in charge of creating the necessary infrastructure for the World Cup, as well as the organizer of the workers’ tournament. The crew also informed the Government Communications Office and Portland Communications, a public relations firm hired by the Qatari government, of their reporting trip.

While in detention, the crew were forced to sign confessions that they had filmed without permission and trespassed, Holm wrote. After interrogations about the purpose of their reporting and admonitions on journalistic ethics, the crew were also forced to handwrite statements promising they would not record any interviews with workers or film stadiums under construction without government permission. After 10 hours, the crew were finally allowed to leave the police station. Security officials returned their passports and mobile phones, but did not return the memory cards from their cameras.

After their release, the crew decided to leave Qatar, and flew out the following morning, Holm wrote.

Qatar has come under intense scrutiny from human-rights organizations and news outlets over its treatment of migrant workers, especially those working on projects like the World Cup, which garner high international attention. In 2015, at least two other international news crews were detained while reporting on the human-rights situation in Qatar in the lead up to the World Cup, according to CPJ research.