Qatar’s Supreme Committee has rushed to apologize to Danish broadcaster TV2 after one of its journalists was threatened by security staff while he was live.
Reporting from Qatar days before the opening game of the FIFA World Cup, TV2 journalist Rasmus Tantholdt was speaking on a live broadcast when he was approached by security personnel who had appeared on a golf cart.
It quickly became apparent that he was not welcome to film and he was soon threatened with having his camera smashed and destroyed.
The clip, which has gone viral on social media, showed Tantholdt switching to English to seek clarification on where he may have misinterpreted filming rules in Qatar.
“You invited the whole world here. Why can’t we film? It is a public place,” he said.
He quickly presented his press credentials on his phone, reaffirming their permissions to film, but as a man struggles with the camera lens, a security guard claims the camera will be destroyed if they don’t stop. no filming.
The Danes show their press credentials and say they have permission to film. Then the guards follow up with a threat. If they don’t stop filming, they will destroy the camera.
“You can break the camera,” he added. ‘Do you want to break it? To chase. You threaten us by breaking the camera.
Danish journalist Rasmus Tantholdt was interrupted while presenting live on television in Qatar
Security officials disputed that he was filming and soon threatened to destroy his camera
A security guard tries to explain that he is unable to film, despite his accreditation card
Talking about Qatar at a Norwegian outlet NRKTantholdt confirmed that he has since received an apology from delegates in Qatar, but the fact that he was arrested during a live broadcast raises a number of concerns for him.
“I don’t think the message from the summit in Qatar has reached all the security guards,” he reportedly said.
“Therefore, you can say that some have misunderstood the situation, but at the same time, it says a lot about what it is like in Qatar.” This is where you can be attacked and threatened when reporting as free media.
“It’s not a free and democratic country,” he added. “My experience after visiting 110 countries around the world is that the longer you have to hide, the harder it is to report from there.”
Qatari officials (pictured) arrived on a golf cart during the live broadcast
Tantholdt seen showing his press credentials before claiming he doesn’t need a permit
Qatar has been heavily criticized and scrutinized for human rights abuses and its attitude towards the LGBTQ+ community since winning the 2022 World Cup rights 12 years ago.
It is also not the first time that reporters have found it difficult to report freely and openly in Qatar.
Norwegian outlet NRK endured its own problems while reporting in Qatar last year.
Two of their journalists, Halvor Ekeland and Lokman Ghorbani, were arrested and then imprisoned in Qatar for claiming the couple filmed on private land.
They were held for approximately 30 hours before being released and returned to Norway.
In November last year, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre called the treatment of journalists in the Gulf state “unacceptable”.
“A free press is essential to the proper functioning of a democracy,” he added.
It seems that there are still problems for the journalists with a few days of the start of the tournament.
Qatar’s Supreme Committee later issued an apology after the clip went viral on social media
American writer Grant Wahl had his own run-in with security personnel who were told to delete a photo he had taken in the media centre.
Detailing the story on his Twitter account, Wahl wrote: “I took a photo of the Qatar World Cup slogan on the wall in the media center today – and a security guard came over and demanded delete it from my phone.” Is that how this World Cup is going to work?
He was told a ‘photo is not allowed’ before protesting that he was simply taking a picture.
“Please delete it, sir,” was the reply.
The World Cup kicks off on Sunday when hosts Qatar take on Ecuador.