Iran International journalists had Qatar World Cup visa ‘revoked’ – Press Gazette | Team Cansler

Journalists from London-based Iran International Television (IITV) have apparently had their visas revoked to enter Qatar to cover the World Cup.

The revocations came after IITV was classified as a “terrorist” organization by the Iranian government.

IITV, which takes a critical stance on the Iranian government, has claimed that Iran relied on Qatar to have its journalists’ licenses revoked.

A Qatari government spokesman declined to comment on IITV’s claims, but claimed none of the journalists have ever received accreditation or visas from Qatar or FIFA.

Documents provided by IITV to Press Gazette appear to contradict this claim, showing that one IITV journalist was approved to enter Qatar back in August and that three were approved for FIFA accreditation.

Qatar is ranked 119th in the 2022 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, while Iran is ranked 178th out of 180 countries.

IITV is a 24/7 news channel broadcasting in Persian. The drain has reported extensively on the protests that followed the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who was allegedly beaten into a coma and then killed by Iran’s morality police for not wearing her hijab correctly.

[Read more: Iranian journalist seized after reporting on Mahsa Amini funeral]

IITV planned to send seven journalists to Qatar for the World Cup – three of them with them FIFA accreditation and four others with general entry visas allowing them to watch the World Cup with restricted access. IITV said all of its journalists had successfully applied to enter Qatar by August.

Two of the three FIFA-accredited journalists now say they have had their entry visas revoked and the third that their visa has been changed from approved to pending. According to the unaccredited journalists, they were told in late October that their visas had been changed to allow entry but no work.

IITV has accused Qatar of withdrawing its journalists’ visas under pressure from the Iranian government. According to Radio Free Europe, Iran’s intelligence minister said last week that working with IITV would be considered working with terrorists.

Iran’s conservative newspaper Kayhan reported this week that the Iranian government was pressuring Qatar to reject the IITV journalists, although it is unclear whether this claim is linked to the intelligence minister’s comment.

A Qatari government spokesman declined to comment but said no entry permit had been issued by either their government or FIFA.

However, Press Gazette has allegedly seen PDFs from the FIFA accreditation team confirming that IITV staff had previously been approved to cover the World Cup. Metadata associated with the PDFs indicates that the documents were created on Nov. 6, prior to Iran’s intelligence minister’s comments. The person named as the originator of the documents is Accreditation Manager at FIFA.

Similarly, the PDF Hayya or Qatar admission ticket for an IITV journalist appears to have been created in August, a month before the Amini protests broke out in Iran.

Press Gazette again asked the Qatari government’s press office for comment after seeing the documents, but received no response. Press Gazette has also approached FIFA to confirm the accreditations.

Volant Media, which broadcasts IITV, said earlier this month that two of its journalists have faced death threats. The Guardian reported they were told by the Metropolitan Police that the threats were “a imminent, credible and significant risk to their lives and that of their families”.

Iranian journalists in Britain have for several years Faced with threats, they are “snapped off the streets” for their work.

In 2018, an anonymous source told The Guardian Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman was ‘the force behind Iran International’ Television as anti-Iranian soft power ploy. The broadcaster has strenuously denied any connection to the Saudi state or royal court.

[Read more: UK-based Iran International journalists’ rights ‘trampled’ amid threats from Iranian state]

Separately, Qatari authorities have issued an apology after security guards threatened journalists from Danish TV channel TV2 live in Doha on Thursday night despite showing their accreditation.

Journalist Rasmus Tantholdt was filmed and said to security personnel: “They invited the whole world to come here, why can’t we film?”

Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy said the crew had been “erroneously interrupted” and had “issued a recommendation to all organizations to respect the filming permits in place at the tournament”.

Image: Mohammed Dabbous/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

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