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Arrests Don’t Stop Journalists From Exploring Qatari Labor Abuses

The BBC’s reporters were invited by Qatar to observe worker conditions ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

Construction work in Qatar is performed primarily by foreign workers, who are treated very poorly. Photo by Flickr user Ian Munroe.

BBC News was invited to visit Qatar by the Prime Minister’s Office to observe and interview workers who are building the 2022 World Cup stadium—but after they arrived to join the press delegation, they were arrested and questioned by security services. Reporter Mark Lobel, along with his cameraman, translator, and driver, were stopped en route to the worker housing buildings, frisked by security police, and then transported to an intelligence building, where they were all interrogated.

“The questioning was hostile,” said Lobel in his report. “We were never accused of anything directly, instead they asked over and over what we had done and who we had met.”

Their belongings were confiscated as well. Qatar, as well as FIFA, has been subject to much criticism over the treatment and conditions of laborers who are building the infrastructure in preparation for the World Cup. This press delegation was ostensibly a PR effort to combat some of the negative press—except it looks like someone forgot to inform Qatar’s intelligence services.

“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,” wrote Lobel on the BBC website. “It was a shock. I had never suspected I was being tailed.”

FIFA says they’re investigating the matter.

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