Wednesday morning, the two NRK reporters Halvor Ekeland and Lokman Ghorbani returned to Norway after 32 hours of incarceration whilst doing a news story on the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Later in the day, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Head of Communications Trude Måseide informed NTB that Qatar’s ambassador had been summoned to explain the grounds for the arrest.
Questioned for hours
«We interview the chairman at length after a ceremony, and return to our hotel at noon to fetch our equipment. We are then approached by 5 or 6 men who identify themselves as police and take us to the station,» reporter Halvor Ekeland says. «We are questioned for eight hours in separate rooms, one at a time.»
They are then put in a small security cell with 10-12 others.
Ekeland says they were never threatened in any way, but that it was still quite an ordeal. They were allowed to give their side of the story, but had a hard time grasping why this was happening.
«A few hours later, they bring us a piece of paper which they ask us to sign. We don’t understand the contents, but still sign,» he says.
Soon after, they are released with no further explanation.
Photojournalist Lokman Ghorbani says they examined all his equipment thoroughly, but were otherwise pleasant enough.
Qatari authorities claim the reporters were guilty of willfully trespassing private property, but that they were released without charges 23 November.
- Rock bottom in enthusiasm
When asked if a boycott should be reconsidered in light of the events, Thor Gjermund Eriksen responds: «These recent days we have reached rock bottom in our enthusiasm for the FIFA World Cup. But Norwegian media and journalists keeping their distance do not make the world a better place.»
«However, this is an attack on our very mission. Free and independent media, journalists being allowed to cover the actual events, is fundamental. It is my unequivocal conviction that the journalists were acting in a manner befitting an NRK field reporter. I stand here proudly.»