Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Watch where you point your camera

Visitor 'took pictures of armed forces headquarters'

Haneen Dajani

Nov 29, 2011 ABU DHABI // A visitor who claimed he was only taking pictures of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque appeared at the State Security Court yesterday accused of illegally photographing a public building.
The man, who was not identified in court, denied taking photographs of the nearby Armed Forces General Headquarters, claiming: "I was taking photos of the mosque."
His lawyer asked to postpone the hearing to prepare his defence. The case was adjourned until Monday.
The man's case comes during a year when there has been three similar cases.
A Korean architect was recently charged with photographing the Iranian and Syrian embassies, which he said was done for architectural purposes, as his company was building the new Korean embassy in the capital.
In February, an Iranian tourist was charged with taking photographs of the Presidential Palace in Ras Al Akhdar, near the Corniche. The man told the court he took photos of the palace out of "admiration of the structure of the building" and that he did not have any "bad intentions".
A week later, two Bangladeshi men stood in the same court accused of taking photos of the Yas Marina Circuit.

Now, I'm not going to exactly identify where the GHQ Armed Forces HQ building is (for fear of getting in trouble myself!) - but all I will say is that it would be pretty easy to have it in the same photo as the Grand Mosque if taken from certain angles. I doubt a lot of people even know what the building is and give no second thought to it being in their picture. The building is even right next door to a new high class hotel being built, where I am sure from certain bedrooms you could pretty much look right into the building! I often wonder how they authorised the construction of a hotel so close to the GHQ building. Do they value tourists more than their national security? The area is much more of a "touristy" area now, so it would probably make sense to think about moving the GHQ to a quieter, more secure area. 
Having said that, I did some work with the UK Ministry of Defense in their Main Building in Whitehall, which is right on the embankment in London - however, you wouldn't get arrested for photographing it, well I didn't anyway! 

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