A German TV crew was allegedly arrested, interrogated, had their footage deleted and equipment destroyed by Qatari authorities, it has emerged.
The crew were filming a documentary about the 2022 World Cup in March this year for one of Germany’s largest television networks, ARD, but the incident only came to light after their documentary ‘The Selling of Football: Sepp Blatter and the Power of Fifa’ was broadcast this week.
The crew, which included a reporter, cameraman, camera assistant and driver, were arrested by Qatari state security police while filming foreign workers on building sites on March 27. They were interrogated by police before being taken to a prosecutor, and after being held for 14 hours, the crew were banned from leaving Qatar for five days, eventually leaving on April 2 following intervention from the German ambassador.
Their equipment was eventually returned to them on April 26, by which stage all data on their storage devices was deleted.
While the crew, led by ARD journalist Florian Bauer, did not have permission to film before travelling to Qatar, he told media this week that he had repeatedly tried without success to get permission to film and to interview various Qatari officials.
“I can only assume that this time they thought, ‘We don’t want to have the same story in terms of labour camp visits’,” Bauer told the Daily Telegraph.\
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“After five-and-a-half weeks of contacting the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), the embassy of Qatar in Germany, and so on, asking all of them for the shooting permit, we actually acknowledged they don’t want to give us one.”
Bauer, who had previously been granted the required permit on each of his previous visits to the country, said everything had been deleted from their equipment, including phone and hard drives, while a laptop was also destroyed.
In response, the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy issued a statement.
“Following media reports regarding the German film crew detained in Qatar recently, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy would like to clarify certain inaccuracies surrounding the incident.
“The journalist and the film crew concerned were not arrested as a result of reporting on allegations surrounding the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar or FIFA. Any suggestion to the contrary is explicitly false.
“Any media outlet wishing to film in Qatar requires a film permit to do so, as is common in many countries. Any working journalist who has visited Qatar will be aware of this process and understand filming in specific locations without permission runs the risk of legal repercussions. The journalist in question has visited Qatar several times before.
“Furthermore, during the same period a second film crew from the same German network also visited Qatar, gaining access to numerous locations and stakeholders throughout the country. To our knowledge they encountered no such problems.”