Two Swiss journalists were detained while covering the opening of the Abu Dhabi Louvre in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, according to a statement by Swiss public broadcaster RTS.
Journalist Serge Enderlin and cameraman Jon Bjorgvinsson were arrested as they filmed an open-air market, and were held for more than 50 hours, according to the statement.
UAE authorities said the journalists had trespassed at a restricted area in an industrial zone, prompting their arrest.
“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.
Enderlin said the pair had been “unlucky.”
“We were caught by the police as we were filming in a market on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi where tens of thousands of immigrant workers live, building the country in harsh conditions. We simply wanted to document their life,” he said.
RTS said the journalists were blindfolded as they were shuttled to several different locations.
“We were separated, had our phones and watches taken away and were put in total isolation,” the statement quoted Bjorgvinsson as saying.
“They never laid a hand on us, but their interrogations were tough and long,” he added. The statement added that the crew’s gear was confiscated by UAE authorities.
“The NMC works to uphold the right of all media to report freely throughout the UAE. However we recognize that must be done in accordance with UAE laws and regulations,” read the UAE National Media Council statement.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi – a $1 billion project – opened last week to great fanfare.