Journos tell of mock execution horror in Syria
TT/The Local/og | 9 Jan 2014, 11:26
Beatings with rifle butts and mock executions were among the harrowing abuse suffered by two Swedish journalists during nearly seven weeks in captivity in Syria, the pair revealed ahead of their expected arrival in Sweden on Thursday.
"We were subject to the entire range of physical and mental abuse," photojournalist Niclas Hammarström told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.
"Being hit with rifle butts, kicks, whipping with rubber hoses, had our heads slammed into concrete walls, were subject to mock executions and even shot."
The pair told the Aftonbladet newspaper that they were kidnapped at gunpoint, and moved between seven or eight different places during the time they were detained. The journalists are still unaware of who their armed captors were.
After a few days in custody, the pair even tried to escape, having saved food to be able to survive while on the run.
"We began to run but we were found out. I got shot in the leg," explained Hammarström, adding that the captors became more aggressive after the breakout.
They survived on one or two meals a day, which could be as little as two potato halves and a little water.
The father of Niclas Hammarström, Hans, was relieved to know his son would be on Swedish shores within the day.
"It's beginning to sink in. It's comforting that we weren't aware of the suffering they were going through at the time," he told the TT news agency.
Martin Schibbye, the Swedish journalist who served 14 months in prison in Ethiopia, was also gladdened by news of the release.
"It's fantastic that this has come to an end," he told TT. "Being freed from prison is a unbelievable feeling. Even when you get your head around it mentally, it takes time to get used to running water and being able to move freely."
The journalists, who were both released this week, are expected to arrive home in Stockholm on Thursday afternoon, via Beirut and Paris. No press conference or welcoming reception is planned for their arrival.
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