GENEVA — Swiss television channel RTS claimed on Sunday that a pair of their sports reporters were held against their will for 13 days in Qatar, the host country for the 2022 football World Cup.
The duo, who were filming a report on football in Qatar, "were grounded on Qatari soil for two weeks without receiving a clear explanation of what they were accused of," said RTS in a statement.
The journalist and the cameraman were able to return to Switzerland on Friday morning, after an "intense" effort from the Swiss embassy in Kuwait; Switzerland not having diplomatic representation in Qatar.
The pair were filming "landscape shots," according to RTS, when they were stopped by a police patrol at Mesaieed and taken to a local police station, where they were handcuffed and interrogated for several hours.
After being transferred to a station in Wakra for further interrogations, they went in front of a judge in Doha, where "they had to pay a fine, without receiving either a report about their offence or a receipt".
The cameraman had his camera confiscated but he and the journalist were then freed, but without official authorisation to leave Qatar.
Returning to the place where they had been arrested, they "were able to confirm that there was no indication that filming was forbidden," said RTL.
"Moreover, before leaving for the country, the Qatar embassy in Geneva had told them that they could film 'freely,'" added the channel.
"The arbitrary conduct of the Qatari police constitutes a serious violation of press liberty," said Massimo Lorenzi, head of sports at RTS, in the statement.
He also said that the "very regrettable incident" would be reported to "all the responsible authorities concerned, as well as (world football's governing body) FIFA".
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