The Qatar Supreme Committee has rushed to issue an apology to Danish broadcaster TV2 after one of their journalists was threatened by security staff while live on air.
Reporting from Qatar days before the opening match of the FIFA World Cup, TV2 reporter Rasmus Tantholdt was speaking as part of a live broadcast when he was approached by security staff that had appeared on a golf buggy.
It quickly became apparent that he was not welcome to film and he was quickly threatened with having his camera smashed and destroyed.
The clip, which has gone viral across social media, showed Tantholdt switching to English to ask for clarifications on where he was allegedly misconstruing any rules on filming in Qatar.
‘You have invited the whole world here. Why can’t we film? It is a public place,’ he said.
He quickly presented his press accreditation on his phone, reaffirming their permissions to film but as one man grapples with the lens of the camera, a security guard claims the camera will be destroyed if they do not stop filming.
The Danes show their press accreditation 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. ‘You want to break it? Go ahead. You’re threatening us by breaking the camera.’
Danish reporter Rasmus Tantholdt was interrupted while presenting live on TV out in Qatar
Security officials took issue with him filming and soon threatening to destroy his camera
A security guard tries to explain that he is unable to film, despite his accreditation pass
Speaking from Qatar to Norwegian outlet NRK, Tantholdt confirmed he had since been given an apology by delegates in Qatar but the fact he was stopped during a live broadcast raises a number of concerns for him.
‘I don’t think the message from the top in Qatar has reached all the security guards,’ he was quoted as saying.
‘Therefore, one can argue that there are some who have misunderstood the situation, but at the same time it tells a lot about what it is like in Qatar. There it is that you can be attacked and threatened when you report as a free media.’
‘This is not a free and democratic country,’ he added. ‘My experience after visiting 110 countries in the world is: The more you have to hide, the more difficult it is to report from there.’
Qatari officials (pictured) arrived on a golf buggy while the live broadcast was going on
Tantholdt seen showing his press accreditation before claiming he does not need a permit
Qatar has been heavily criticised and scrutinised over human rights violations and its attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community since it was handed the rights to the 2022 World Cup 12 years ago.
It is also not the first time reporters have had issues trying to report freely and openly in Qatar.
Norwegian outlet NRK endured their own issues when reporting from Qatar last year.
Two of their journalists, Halvor Ekeland and Lokman Ghorbani, were arrested and subsequently were imprisoned in Qatar over claims that the pair had been filming on private land.
They were held for around 30 hours before they were released and sent back to Norway.
Back in 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 to a functioning democracy,’ he added.
It appears there are still problems for reporters just days out from the start of the tournament.
Qatari’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 staff having been told to delete a photo he had taken in the media centre.
Detailing the story on his Twitter account, Wahl wrote: ‘I took a picture of the Qatar World Cup slogan on the wall of the media center today – and a security guard came over and demanded that I delete it from my phone. Is that how this World Cup is going to work?’
He was told that a ‘picture is not allowed’ before he protested that he was simply taking a photo.
‘Kindly delete it, sir,’ came the reply.
The World Cup gets underway on Sunday when hosts Qatar face Ecuador.