Channel 4 News pair in Sudan 'captured, beaten and tortured simply for being journalists'

Two Channel 4 News filmmakers captured while filming human rights abuses in Sudan were “beaten, tortured and electrocuted, simply for being journalists” the programme’s editor has said.

Phil Cox and Daoud Hari where abducted in December last year after crossing into Sudan from neighbouring Chad, the channel has now revealed.

They had been commissioned to report on the impact of illegal migration through the country and allegations of chemical weapons attacks on civilians in the Darfur region carried out by the Sudanese government.

While in Darfur, rebels warned the team they were being tracked after the government issued a six-figure bounty for their capture, Channel 4 News reports.

The two men were kidnapped by members of a militia group near the Jebel Marra mountains and held hostage by armed guards.

Channel 4 News has revealed they were chained to a tree in the desert for a week and beaten, then transferred to the notorious Kobar Prison in Khartoum.

On the flight to the facility, Cox was threatened with being thrown off the plane.

At the prison, the pair were held separately and interrogated, beaten and tortured. During Cox’s 40-day detention, he was also subjected to a mock execution.

Following diplomatic intervention by the UK and US governments, Hari was released on 18 January this year Cox’s release followed on 1 February.

Despite having all their camera equipment confiscated by the militia in Darfur, Cox managed to smuggle out footage on a memory card.

Channel 4 News editor Ben de Pear said: “We sent Daoud and Phil to investigate allegations of human rights abuses in Sudan, but we never thought that they themselves would fall victim to these horrific abuses.

“They were beaten, tortured and electrocuted, simply for being journalists. Their story from within the belly of the Sudanese security state is one of the most frightening we have ever broadcast on Channel 4 News.

“I would like to pay tribute to Phil and Daoud, as well as to those who helped them inside prison, and to the many people in the FCO led by Minister Tobias Ellwood and the UK Ambassador in Sudan Michael Aron, as well as the US State Department.

“Their tireless efforts saw them released and brought home to their loved ones.”

Cox said: “Daoud and I experienced first-hand the lengths that the Sudanese government will go to stop any independent reporting on what is happening in Darfur.

“Our time in prison gave us a terrifying insight into the brutal tactics of the Sudanese security forces, and it also revealed the arbitrary and heavy-handed way any perceived opposition or anti-government criticism is dealt with.”

The initial commission was also supported by US online platform Field of Vision.

A film about the two men’s ordeal, Hunted in Sudan, will be broadcast on Channel 4 News on 5 and 6 April at 7pm.

Picture: Channel 4 News

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