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UAE arrests two Swiss journalists over Louvre coverage

The journalists were covering the opening of the controversial Louvre branch in the UAE [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 November, 2017

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Journalists covering the opening of Abu Dhabi Louvre museum for a Swiss broadcaster were arrested and held for two days, their employer said Sunday, slamming the UAE attack on media.
Two journalists covering the opening of the Abu Dhabi Louvre museum for Swiss public broadcaster RTS were arrested and held for two days, their employer said on Sunday, slamming the attack on press freedom.

Journalist Serge Enderlin and cameraman Jon Bjorgvinsson were arrested in the UAE on Thursday, while they were shooting images at an outdoor market, the broadcaster said.

"[We] condemn the violation of press freedom targeting its journalists," RTS chief Pascal Crittin said on Twitter.

The men, who had arrived in the country early last week and who were accredited to cover the opening of the new Louvre museum, were held for more than 50 hours.

They has no opportunity to communicate with the outside world, the broadcaster said.

The journalists were interrogated for up to nine hours at a time, and were blindfolded as they were shuttled between different locations, it said.

Their camera, computers, hard drives and other material were confiscated, RTS said.

The authorities appeared to want to know the reason for their shoot in the marketplace, where they seemed angered by the fact that Pakistani workers had been filmed.

They also asked the journalists if they were working with a third-party state or a non-governmental organisation, RTS said.

The men were finally released overnight to Sunday and were permitted to fly back to Zurich, leaving their equipment and most of their other belongings behind, it added.

The UAE's constitution originally guaranteed freedom of expression "within the limits of the law". Since its inception, those laws have become increasingly restrictive.

Journalists and activists routinely go missing for showing even the slightest criticism of the regime and it is a criminal offence to publish anything that could damage the economy.

 

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