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“This is not Disneyland:” Journalists invited to Qatar on a PR tour were tailed, arrested, and jailed
Qatar, one of the world’s richest countries and the winner of the bid to host the soccer World Cup in 2022, has for months been criticized for mistreating migrant workers involved in construction for the sports event. A team of BBC journalists who was invited to Qatar, in part to dispel this bad press, say they were taken on a tour of villas and swimming pools built for workers—and then were arrested, interrogated, and imprisoned.
Mark Lobel, the BBC’s Middle East business correspondent, wrote about his team’s experience , which came after the BBC arrived in Doha by invitation of the prime ministers’ office and through the arrangements of a London-based public relations firm called Portland Communications.
The ordeal began, Lobel said, when they were en route to film a group of workers from Nepal, which provides much of Qatar’s low-paid migrant labour. The BBC’s vehicles were surrounded, and the team was ordered out into the street where they were frisked, had their equipment confiscated, and were taken to the city’s main police station custody for questioning.
“The cameraman, translator, driver, and I were interrogated separately by intelligence officers,” Lobel wrote. “The questioning was hostile. We were never accused of anything directly, instead they asked over and over what we had done and who we had met.”
The police showed photos of Lobel standing around having coffee, and he realized he had been followed by the police for two days since he arrived in Qatar’s capital. “In perfect English and with more than a touch of malice, he threatened us with another four days in prison—to teach us a lesson,” the journalist said. Lobel added:
Thirteen hours of waiting around and questioning later, one of the interrogators snapped. “This is not Disneyland,” he barked. “You can’t stick your camera anywhere.”
He said the journalists were suddenly released after being held for two days, and that, as of today, the BBC’s equipment had not been returned.
This isn’t the first arrest of a camera crew trying to film working conditions in Doha. In March, German journalist Florian Bauer and his team were arrested (link in German) and had their equipment confiscated. It was returned four weeks later with all the data deleted.
Qatar has been heavily criticized for mistreating Nepalese workers. In 2013, the Guardian wrote an exposé on the “slave” conditions that saw scores of workers dying of heart failure and in workplace accidents, as well as suffering from brutal conditions, lack of payment, and the confiscation of passports.
Update, May 18: The Qatari government later issued a statement saying that the BBC team had been arrested because in the course of their investigation they “trespassed on private property, which is against the law in Qatar just as it is in most countries.” Fifa, the international football association, said it was investigating the reports.
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Renovated Old City Jail reopens for nightly ghost tours next Friday
by Matthew Sockol
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — Bulldog Tours is announcing the re-launch of their nightly ghost tours at the historic Old City Jail at 21 Magazine St. in downtown Charleston.
"Our guests have really missed this tour over the past two years and we think they will be excited to see the updates to the building and to the tour itself," Bulldog Tours owner John Laverne said in a statement.
Read more: Charleston County Parks announce 2023 Harvest Festival featuring local bands and festive activities
Since 2004, according to a press release, Bulldog Tours has offered ghost tours of the jail, which has been touted as Charleston's most haunted building. Originally constructed in 1802 and on the National Register of Historic Places, the jail has recently undergone renovations and tours were suspended during construction.
Changes to the building include the welcomed addition of heating and cooling systems and updated restrooms. Many aspects of Bulldog’s ghost tour will be familiar to previous guests since the history of the building hasn’t changed with the renovation, but there are some new additions, according to the press release.
The press release says tour guides lead small groups throughout the first floor telling the chilling, disturbing, and often gruesome stories of the infamous criminals who were once imprisoned there in horrific conditions. Enhancing these stories are newly added visual depictions of various forms of punishment, the prison yard, and the jailer's quarters.
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"Hands down, the Charleston Haunted Jail tour has always been the most popular of the 22 different tours that we offer because guests often have their own eerie encounters, while guides tell some spine tingling stories," Laverne said in his statement. "It's a unique experience for sure and we think it's even better now."
According to the press release, Bulldog Tours has been at the forefront of the ongoing restoration and preservation of many of Charleston's most historically significant properties including the Old City Jail and is honored to help ensure that the stories, lessons, and spirits this fabled landmark holds, still endure. The 45-minute nightly tours begin Oct. 20th starting at 6:00 p.m.
Advanced reservations are required and tickets begin at $37 for guests 12 years and up (the tours are not recommended for children). For further information or to book a tour, please visit the Bulldog Tours website or call 843-722-8687
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Haunted Jail Tour Scary! - Bulldog Tours
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Haunted Jail Tour Scary!
Hubby and I signed up for the 8:00 Haunted Jail Tour. Paulette was our guide. She was terrific! A storm moved in and thunder and lighthing really added to the mood. We were taken in several rooms where prisoners had been kept. What a dreadful place to be incarcerated! We were encouraged to take photos using a flash. There were a couple of stairs we ascended and descended. No lights were on. I did not "see" ghosts or feel their presence. My only criticism is the lack of light to help facilitate the stairs. Would recommend this tour. Maybe it could be a little longer?
I don't know if these ghosts really exist, but through the power of suggestion, Larry will make you a believer. He masterfully plants the idea as he leads you through the nooks, crannies, dungeons and alleys of Charleston. He knows all the details of when, where and how events took place in this historic southern city.
My fiancée and I were excited to go on some ghost tours while in Charleston for the weekend. We had been on a very disappointing tour in Gatlinburg TN in the spring and hear great things about Bulldog tours. We went on the Haunted Jail Tour first. It was a very interesting tour, out tour guide was knowledgeable and entertaining, despite a couple skeptics in our group. We also got some neat pictures. Here is where the disappointment and low rating comes into play. We reported for our Cemetery Tour and were being split up into groups. My fiancée and I were the only two in group 3 that had shown up, and your staff seemed confused and unorganized. Then several people showed up, bought tickets and joined us and another couple who were split off another group. We began walking on the tour, with our guide (an older woman and I cannot remember her name). Anyway, our first stop was St. Phillips Church. Another tour was already there ahead of us. Our tour guide told a story that took almost 25 minutes about a man and a picture. Three other groups, including Bulldog groups passed us, moved on across the street, and left before she was done. We then walked to the Circle Church, and were excited, as we had visited this graveyard during the day, and couldn't wait to hear the history here. Two groups were in there already and were seen touring the entire grounds. Our group entered stopped on the walkway closest to the church, moved on to the oldest grave and brick mound, walked back down the walkway we came in and left. Never ventured around the back or front as the two other tours had. We walked out, she locked the gate, told us that was the end of the tour and we all went our separate ways. The last story she told about a boy and his sister, who weren't even buried there was confusing. She was long winded, eccentric, and I feel sorry changed our tour compared to what other customers got for their money. I had a better time exploring that graveyard during the day with my fiancée than I did with your guide and her stories. If we had only stayed with the Jail Tour it would have been a very good rating.
I am so happy that you enjoyed the Haunted Jail Tour. It is one of our best tours. Who was your tour guide with the Ghost and Graveyard? I'm so sorry to hear that you didn't like the tour. The Ghost and Graveyard and the Haunted Jail Tours are definitely different. Again, we are sorry you didn't enjoy the Ghost and Graveyard Tour. We are happy to hear your feedback and will share this with our staff.
We were looking for something a little different, something uniquely Charleston, perhaps something a little edgier than the ghost tours we usually enjoy. The Darkside of Charleston Tour by Bulldog Tours hit the mark. Our guide, Stephan, was incredibly knowledgeable of the seed and sordid underworld that was part of the fabric of every day, umm I mean, every night, of Charleston's past. This distinctively singular tour offered alternative point of view that was unlike the usual historic or ghost tours. It is not recommended for children as the adult situations and colorful explanations may cause some adults to blush while children would like silly walking around with "ear muffs" on.
My wife, I and two adult children did the 9:30pm Ghost and Graveyard Tour with Michael Clayton as our guide. He did a great job of keeping us entertained with his stories about the history of Charleston, SC.
Met at the old city jail, not many blocks off the main drag.Still seemed safe to walk after tour was over at night of course. Had a former police officer give the tour, wish I could remember his name. Learned a lot of history of how they treated prisoners back then.I can understand why this place would be haunted.Gallows pole, thought that was just a Led Zeppelin song.This is the best Bulldog tour so far.
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Charleston: Haunted Jail Walking Tour
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