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British journalists jailed in Qatar after reporting on conditions for World Cup laborers



AFP/Getty Images

After being invited by Qatar’s prime-minister to inspect new accommodation for low-paid migrant workers, the last thing journalists and a film crew from the BBC expected was to be arrested and thrown in jail.

But it happened.

With plenty of reports circulating about the shocking living conditions for migrant workers in Qatar ahead of the 2022 World Cup, and FIFA telling them they must do more to improve it, the Middle East nation has been trying to upgrade living quarters for those workers.

[ RELATED: Qatar “must improve” working conditions ]

However this latest act proves that there is still plenty of hostility towards the foreign media, even though the BBC team was eventually released after spending two nights behind bars without any reason from the Qatari government whatsoever. Later, they claimed the BBC had trespassed by speaking with migrant workers and visiting labor villages before the official trip had begun.

Below is an extract from BBC reporter, Mark Lobel, who was at the center of the arrest as he and his team were rounded up by Qatari officials:

We were invited to Qatar by the prime minister’s office to see new flagship accommodation for low-paid migrant workers in early May - 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.

FIFA has vowed to look into the incident and said that: “Any instance relating to an apparent restriction of press freedom is of concern to FIFA and will be looked into with the seriousness it deserves.”

Ahead of the 2022 World Cup being held in the tiny Arab nation, incidents like these will continue to shed a bad light on the Qatari authorities around the globe.

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