– We are taking seriously the arrest of our journalist over their work in Qatar. Freedom of speech is fundamental to NRK and all independent media. We did not receive any explanations from the local authorities and it is difficult to interpret it differently than an attack on free journalism – we read in the NRK press release.
Norwegian journalists were told to speak to a critic of the Qatari regime. They were arrested
The only circumstances that could explain the detention of Ekeland and Ghorbani are their planned meeting with the critic of the Qatari authorities, Abdullah Ibhais. He, too, was arrested, but much earlier than the journalists, and on the day he was supposed to meet them.
This is not the first time that a tense situation has arisen between the Norwegian media and the Qatari authorities. Those earlier in November wanted to take legal action against Josimar magazine.
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Norway against the World Cup in Qatar
Journalists and their rights were defended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anniken Huitfeldt, in the statement for NRK. – Freedom of expression is the basis of a functioning democracy and the foundation to fulfill other human rights. Putting pressure on freedom of expression and media is very worrying. The Qatari authorities know the position of Norway on their actions. I spoke about the human rights situation with the Qatar Foreign Minister on the phone on Monday, she said.
Norway does not hide its views on Qatar and the organization of the World Cup there. During the qualifying rounds for the World Cup, the local team went to matches wearing T-shirts with the words “human rights” in it. An official boycott of the event has not been organized, but the football federation and the Norwegian government are not positive about the event.