Hopes fade for free access to Qatar World Cup sites – CNN

CNN’s Political Editor Jonathan Mann was along with other CNN journalists in Qatar on Saturday covering conditions for migrant workers building infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup.

Mann and CNN’s Tabitha Shiflett (formerly of Arab Media Group) are among a group of journalists held in the capital of Doha on Saturday for over an hour by airport security personnel – apparently part of a criminal investigation relating to exploitation of domestic workers.

The journalists were detained after being refused entry to a two-kilometer (1.2 mile) area of Green Zone, where the main World Cup stadiums will be built and lived in. Security staff claimed they had received a tip off the journalists were involved in “exploiting” a maid who is supposed to be under the care of her employer.

The journalists were then released shortly after midnight; their belongings handed back to them and their ban on entry to the city lifted.

“We’ve experienced an uncomfortable day in Qatar,” Mann tweeted on Sunday morning. “Our luggage confiscated by police at airport, held for over an hour.”

A tweet from a Fox News team in Qatar also reporting the incident shows a side-by-side comparison of they entry to Qatar, via official photo ID, with the individuals entering the country via the all-inclusive visitor’s visa.

According to multiple reports, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) is prosecuting witnesses over allegations that some construction workers illegally called home, received extra carer and were not paid for the hours they worked.

Footage has also emerged of the AFP News Agency’s cameraman being beaten up and detained while working in Doha on Saturday, accused of having an “unauthorized visa”.

As reported by CNN at the time, AFP’s Kabul bureau chief Azam Abidi was detained by airport police who were on a “wanted person” list issued by Doha authorities.

According to sources, the cameraman was taken to a police station where he was charged with illegal entry and “illicit activities” before being released a short time later.

“An investigation is underway on the case,” a spokesperson for Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, without elaborating further.

According to reports from the country, nearly 60% of the more than 2 million migrant workers in Qatar, the Gulf state’s key trade partner, are women, many of whom work as housekeepers, seamstresses and cooks in the Doha sprawl.

“Our inquires into the detention of [a] BBC reporter are not being explored further at this time,” a BBC spokesperson said.

“BBC journalists who report about or operate in foreign jurisdictions must follow all local legal procedures, and abide by any laws applicable in the place to which they travel.”

“This relates to media, however, not direct foreign workers.”

(By Mark Di Stefano, CNN)

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