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British filmmaker detained in Syria


Sean McAllister was working for Channel 4 News when he was arrested in Syria

Sean McAllister was working for Channel 4 News when he was arrested in Syria

Sean McAllister was working for Channel 4 News when he was arrested in Syria

A British filmmaker has told how he was arrested and interrogated by the Syrian authorities.

Sean McAllister was working for Channel 4 News covering the rebellion in the country when he was detained in a Damascus cafe last week.

He said he and his local contact Jihad were blindfolded and driven at speed to a prison in the city.

"I was placed on a seat in an empty room on my own," Mr McAllister said. "Outside I could hear beatings in a neighbouring room. People being slapped and wailing painfully as they were being whacked."

Mr McAllister, from south London, was held with opponents of the Assad regime and described how they were treated.

"When they are taken out of the cell they are blindfolded and their hands are tied," he told the programme. "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."

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He went on: "I'd seen these things that they'd use, because the cable was next to my bed one night... 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."

Mr McAllister said he did not know what happened to Jihad, and feared for the safety of others who had been helping him film. He added: "I didn't realise exactly what those guys are risking until I went into that experience and my God those guys are brave. Too brave."

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