Freed US journo describes 'mental torture with mock shootings' while held hostage in Syria
An American journalist and his crew, who were rescued after five terrifying days in the hands of Syrian kidnappers, have described how they were mentally tortured with mock executions.
NBC foreign correspondent Richard Engel and four other team members had been taken by thugs loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who wanted to trade them for their agents captured by rebels, the newsmen said.
"It is good to be here. I am very happy that we're able to do this live shot this morning," Engel told NBC News from Antakya, Turkey.
According to the New York Post, the kidnapped journalists were kept bound and blindfolded, and moved to various safe houses along the way.
Their lucky break came when kidnappers, driving them in a minivan, came upon an unexpected rebel checkpoint.
A gunfight ensued, as two kidnappers were killed and the journalists were freed by rebels.
According to the paper, the journalists said they were never physically beaten , but they were subjected 'psychological torture.'
"They made us choose which one of us would be shot first, and when we refused, there were mock shootings. They pretended to shoot Ghazi several times," the report quoted Engel, as saying.
"When you're blindfolded and then they fire the gun up in the air, it can be a very traumatic experience," he added.