UAE arrest two Swiss journalists, interrogates the duo for 50 hours before releasing them
Two Swiss journalists, who were arrested in the UAE while filming a television report accompanying the opening of the Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi, said they were forced to sign documents written in Arabic in order to be released.
Journalist Serge Enderlin and photographer Jon Bjorgvinsson were released but all their equipment were confiscated, reported The Peninsula.
The UAE authorities detained the two journalists, working for Swiss broadcaster RTS, while they were filming at an open-air market in Abu Dhabi, according to the channel. They were then held for two days.
They were detained for more than 50 hours without access to the outside world and interrogated by the authorities for lengthy periods, reported The Art Newspaper.
Enderlin told Al Jazeera that they were questioned over their coverage of migrant workers.
“All we wanted to do was put the opening of the Louvre in a wider context — as a flip-side to the glitz of the museum we wanted to show the migrant workers who actually built it,” he said.
They were accredited to cover the museum’s opening and interview the French architect Jean Nouvel, who designed the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
After being arrested, they were blindfolded while being transported to different facilities, and their camera, computers, storage disks and other equipment were confiscated.
They finally had to sign a confession to be released. Enderlin said he was not able to read the document, as it was in Arabic.
“We presumed that what we signed for was just a summary of what we’ve been saying during our interrogation. The officers were particularly interested in previous reporting trips I’ve made to Qatar in 2002 and 2003,” he said.
“What was especially bothersome was the lengths of the procedures and the extreme intimidation.”
Meanwhile, UAE authorities said the journalists had trespassed at a restricted area in an industrial zone, prompting their arrest, according to CNN.
“After the official opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi; Abu Dhabi police witnessed the journalists trespassing at a secured location in Mussaffah, and subsequently stopped them for questioning. Police later transported the reporters for further questioning at the police department and subsequently released them without charge,” read a statement to CNN by the UAE National Media Council.
The journalists were released on Saturday night and allowed to return to Zurich, leaving their equipment and much of their belongings behind.
The intimidation in the name of interrogation is common in the land of UAE for which a case is opened to just make money. I believe, if a person has trespassed a secure zone, he/ she should be ushered out of the place rather than to blind fold the person and deal with them as criminals. What right do they have to confiscate the property of the person.
UAE is famous for such behavior and so many such cases have been leaked as well.
Everybody makes mistakes. They may come again by following the rules of the land.