Qatar’s Supreme Committee has rushed to apologize to Danish broadcaster TV2 after one of its journalists was threatened by security guards during a live broadcast.
TV2 reporter Rasmus Tantholdt was reporting from Qatar days before the opening match of the FIFA World Cup when he was approached during a live broadcast by security personnel who had appeared on a golf buggy.
It quickly became apparent that he was not invited to film and was quickly threatened that his camera would be smashed and destroyed.
The clip, which went viral on social media, showed Tantholdt switching to English to ask for clarification on where he allegedly misunderstood some rules about filming in Qatar.
“You invited the whole world here. Why can’t we film? It’s a public place,’ he said.
He quickly produced his press credentials on his phone, confirming their permission to film, but as a man wrestles with the camera’s lens, a security guard claims that the camera will be destroyed if they don’t stop filming.
The Danes show their press accreditation and say they have permission to film. Then the guards follow with a threat. If they don’t stop filming, they destroy the camera.
“You can break the camera,” he added. “You want to break it? Continue. You threaten us by breaking the camera.”
Danish reporter Rasmus Tantholdt was interrupted during a live presentation on TV in Qatar
Security officials objected that he was filming and soon threatened to destroy his camera
A security guard tries to explain that he cannot film despite his accreditation card
Speaking from Qatar to Norwegian broadcaster NRK, Tantholdt confirmed he has since received an apology from delegates in Qatar, but the fact that he was stopped during a live broadcast raises a number of concerns.
“I don’t think the message from the top in Qatar has reached all security forces,” he was quoted as saying.
“Therefore, one can argue that there are some who have misunderstood the situation, but at the same time it says a lot about how it is in Qatar. There you can be attacked and threatened if you report as a free media.’
“This is not a free and democratic country,” he added. “My experience after visiting 110 countries around the world is that the more you have to hide, the more difficult it is to report from there.”
Qatari officials (pictured) arrived in a golf buggy while the live broadcast was on
Tantholdt showed his press credentials before claiming he didn’t need a permit
Qatar has been heavily criticized and scrutinized for human rights abuses and its attitude towards the LGBTQ+ community since it won the rights to the 2022 World Cup 12 years ago.
Nor is it the first time reporters in Qatar have struggled to report freely and openly.
Norwegian broadcaster NRK had its own problems reporting from Qatar last year.
Two of their journalists, Halvor Ekeland and Lokman Ghorbani, were arrested and subsequently jailed in Qatar over allegations that the couple were filming on private land.
They were held for around 30 hours before being released and sent back to Norway.
As early as November last year, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre described the treatment of reporters in the Gulf State as “unacceptable”.
“A free press is crucial for a functioning democracy,” he added.
It seems that there are still problems for reporters just a few days before 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 asked to delete a photo he took at the media center.
Wahl wrote the story on his Twitter account: “I took a picture of the Qatar World Cup slogan on the media center wall today – and a security guard came over and demanded that I erase it from my phone. Is this how this World Cup will work?’
He was told that “no picture is allowed” before protesting that he was only taking a picture.
“Please delete it, sir,” came the reply.
The World Cup begins on Sunday when hosts Qatar take on Ecuador.