The Slatest

Qatar Imprisons BBC Journalists Reporting on World Cup Laborers

A Ghanaian labourer in his room at a structure housing foreign workers in Doha, Qatar. (This photo was taken on May 3 in a tour of facilities organized by the Qatari government.)

Marwan Naamani/AFP/GEtty

Earlier in May, German journalists said they had been detained and had their equipment stolen by authorities in Qatar while reporting on the controversial plans to host the 2022 World Cup in the country. As I wrote at the time:

“Treatment of foreign journalists” can thus be added to the list of Qatari World Cup problem issues that already includes treatment of migrant workers, bribery allegations, barbaric human rights laws, and weird, fake paid “fans.”

The Qataris apparently decided that bullying German documentarians wasn’t quite enough to get their message* across, because they’re now accused of imprisoning and stealing equipment from employees of one of the world’s largest and best-known news organizations, the BBC:


We were on a quiet stretch of road in the capital, Doha, on our way to film a group of workers from Nepal … 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 … At 01:00, we were taken to the local prison.

BBC journalist Mark Lobel says he spent two nights in prison, and the BBC says its equipment has not yet been returned. A Qatari government statement said the BBC crew was “detained” because it “trespassed on private property.”

*The message is We should not have been chosen to host the World Cup.