Three BBC journalists covering the civil unrest in Libya were arrested and tortured by forces loyal to President Muammar Gaddafi, before being subjected to a mock execution.
Soldiers fired shots past the heads of the journalists, and they were made to wear hoods and told they were to be killed. At one stage the journalists were held in a cage while Libyan captives around them them were tortured. All journalists were in the country with permission of the Libyan government.
Describing the other prisoners, Turkish cameraman Goktay Koraltan said “I cannot describe how bad it was. Most of them were hooded and handcuffed really tightly, all with swollen hands and broken ribs. They were in agony. They were screaming.”
UK national Chris Cobb-Smith said the three journalists were lined up facing a wall while a man put a submachine gun next to their necks and pulled the trigger.
A Palestinian reporter for BBC Arabic, Feras Killani, was interrogated and then taken to a carpark where he was beaten with a pipe and a long stick. Killani then had a mask taped to his face through which he struggled to breathe.
After the BBC and the UK Foreign Office intervened, a Libyan man “who spoke perfect Oxford English” arrived and signed the paperwork to release the three reporters.
“They took us to their rest room. It was a charm offensive, packets of cigarettes, tea, coffee, offers of food,” the reporters said.
The BBC team had been covering a battle 30 miles from the Libyan capital when they were arrested at a checkpoint.