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Newsman Detained in Iraq Describes Treatment

January 31, 1991

LONDON (AP) _ A British journalist who was detained in Baghdad when war broke out says he was confined to a small cell, forced to strip and deprived of food and bathroom facilities.

Bruce Cheesman, writing in today’s Evening Standard, said he was detained for three days in an Iraqi jail and then held in a hotel before being released nearly two weeks later and crossing into Jordan.

He said he heard the Baghdad bombing begin around 2:30 a.m. on Jan. 17 and left his hotel room to find a phone to file his report.

Cheesman said an Iraqi soldier grabbed him near the U.S. Embassy and accused him of being an American pilot. Cheesman said he kept repeating he was a journalist, but was taken to the headquarters of the Air Force High Command.

The soldiers took his only piece of identification, his belt and $2,700 in cash, then forced him to lie on the floor of a storeroom, he wrote.

He said he was blindfolded and driven to another location, where he was hit around the neck as someone interrogated him in perfect English.

″Then a guard told me this was the very room in which (Farzad) Bazoft was interrogated for the first time,″ Cheesman wrote. Iraq accused Bazoft, a London-based journalist, of being a spy and hanged him on March 15, 1990.

Cheesman said he was blindfolded when he was moved to different places. At one point he was forced to remove all his clothes, was handcuffed and placed in a cell he said was five paces by four paces.

The journalist said he was given ″...one plate of oatmeal that was not even fit for an animal. I needed a toilet but my request was met with laughter and punches.″

After three days in the jail, Cheesman said he was transferred to another site where an Iraqi soldier checked his identity with the Iraqi Ministry of Defense.

He was taken to the Rasheed Hotel, where he was met by Ministry of Information officials ″who appeared deeply embarrassed.″

The Evening Standard said Cheesman was shot at on his journey to Jordan and his car overturned when it hit a bomb crater.

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