Arrested for reporting on Qatar’s World Cup labourers

Mark Lobel reports

We were invited to Qatar by the prime minister’s office to see new flagship accommodation for low-paid migrant workers – but while gathering additional material for our report, we ended up being thrown into prison for doing our jobs.

Our arrest was dramatic.

We were on a quiet stretch of road in the capital, Doha, on our way to film a group of workers from Nepal.

The working and housing conditions of migrant workers constructing new buildings in Qatar ahead of the World Cup have been heavily criticised and we wanted to see them for ourselves.

Suddenly, eight white cars surrounded our vehicle and directed us on to a side road at speed.

A dozen security officers frisked us in the street, shouting at us when we tried to talk. 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.

We were never accused of anything directly, instead they asked over and over what we had done and who we had met.

During a pause in proceedings, one officer whispered that I couldn’t make a phone call to let people know where we were. He explained that our detention was being dealt with as a matter of national security.

An hour into my grilling, one of the interrogators brought out a paper folder of photographs which proved they had been trailing me in cars and on foot for two days since the moment I’d arrived.

I was shown pictures of myself and the team standing in the street, at a coffee shop, on board a bus and even lying next to a swimming pool with friends. It was a shock. I had never suspected I was being tailed.

At 01:00, we were taken to the local prison.

More here

We should boycott the World Cup

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