MOSCOW, November 6 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian government apologized on Wednesday to two Norwegian journalists who were repeatedly detained and questioned by police while reporting on preparations for next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, the Reuters news agency has reported.
TV2 reporter Oystein Bogen and cameraman Aage Aunes say they were taken into police custody several times over a three-day period starting from October 31 and were aggressively questioned about their activities in and around Sochi.
The episode has drawn indignation, including from advocacy group Human Rights Watch, which has voiced routine concern over harassment of journalists reporting on Sochi.
Preparations for the Sochi Games have come under sustained criticism amid claims of environmental damage, corruption, overspending and questionable labor standards.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement to Reuters that it apologized for the treatment of the two Norwegian journalists.
“The Russian Federation will take all necessary measures to avoid the repetition of similar cases in the future,” the statement obtained by Reuters said.
Human Rights Watch said Bogen and Aunes were reporting on stories in Adygea, a Russian republic bordering Sochi to the north. The journalists were repeatedly denied contact with their embassy, the rights group said.
Bogen told Human Rights Watch that he was surprised at how he had been treated.
“I have been working in Russia since 1995, including in the North Caucasus and many other places, and have never experienced anything remotely similar. They were clearly targeting us and trying to get our sources,” he told the rights group.