Broadcast journalist Sean McAllister spoke last night on Channel 4 News about his experience of being seized, blindfolded and imprisoned in Syria by security forces last week whilst working undercover on a report for the broadcaster.
“I was placed on a seat in an empty room on my own. Outside I could hear beatings in a neighbouring room. People being slapped and wailing painfully as they were being whacked.”
Describing how other prisoners – believed to be pro-democracy activists – were treated, he said:
‘When they are taken out of the cell they are blindfolded and their hands are tied. They are taken down the corridor to this, well, they don’t know where they are going, the whole thing, having been blindfolded for a little bit, the disorientation, of never seeing and the person you keep meeting is just a voice that you hear and you have to see him on one knee, you are forced to kneel on one knee. It’s a very awkward position to be in for maybe an hour of interrogation.
‘If they are not satisfied with the info, you would be brought out at three in the morning into the torture chamber and whipped with the cable or there was like a hundred leather belts like a big ball of leather belts in the corner.
‘I’d seen these things that they’d use, because the cable was next to my bed one night. They’d manufactured the end of the cable to become like a proper handle and the cable was so solid that it had formed its arc and the arc as it hit someone’s back.
“It was so heavy, it was so awful, it must have broken bones and the howling, the noise of a human being hit with that is something that just, you know, you shiver and shake. You hear a sound that you’ve never heard before. I’ve never heard before. And I’ve seen people dead. And I’ve seen people dying. And I’ve seen people decapitated, but this sound hearing a man cry, is just like, awful, there’s nothing to compare it with.”
McAlister does not know what has happened to Jihad, his contact in Syria who was seized with him.