A female war photographer from the New York Times revealed tonight how she was repeatedly sexually assaulted during her nightmare hostage ordeal in Libya.
Lynsey Addario was one of four Times journalists have now been released after being held captive by pro-Gaddafi forces.
During their six-day detainment, the Americans were beaten and threatened with being decapitated and shot.
Miss Addario, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, gave a harrowing account of her brutal treatment at the hands of their Libyan captors in an interview given just hours after her release.
After she and her colleagues were hauled out of a car at a checkpoint near the eastern city of Ajdabiya, one of the Libyans punched her in the face and laughed at her.
‘Then I started crying and he was laughing more,’ she told the Times.
One man grabbed her breasts – the start of a pattern of sexual harassment she endured over the ensuing 48 hours.
‘There was a lot of groping,’ she said. ‘Every man who came in contact with us basically felt every inch of my body short of what was under my clothes.’
As she was being driven away from Ajdabiya, she said another of her captors stroked her head and told her repeatedly that she was going to be killed.
‘He was caressing my head in this sick way, this tender way, saying, "You’re going to die tonight. You’re going to die tonight",‘ she added.
Miss Addario was with Anthony Shadid, the paper’s Beirut bureau chief, photographer Tyler Hicks and reporter and videographer Stephen Farrell when they were seized while leaving the scene of fighting between rebels and Libyan government forces because they decided it had become too dangerous.
Their driver inadvertently drove into a checkpoint manned by troops loyal to the Libyan dictator.
‘I was yelling to the driver, "Keep driving! Don’t stop! Don’t stop!",' said Mr Hicks. ‘I knew that the consequences of being stopped would be very bad.’
As they were being forced out of their gold-coloured sedan, rebels opened fire sending them sprawling for safety.
‘You could see the bullets hitting the dirt,’ said Mr Shadid.
The soldiers forced them all to lie on the ground and they feared they were going to be murdered there and then.
‘I heard in Arabic, "Shoot them",’ said Mr Shadid. ‘And we all thought it was over.’ But then they heard another soldier say: ‘No, they’re Americans. We can’t shoot them.’
The fate of the car driver, Mohamed Shaglouf, is unknown.
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