The journalist Luis Castro and the image reporter Vitor Silva were arrested and hit by
north-american troops under the accusation of spying. The special-envoy of RTP, as said
in the TeleJournal (national local news broadcast) how all happened. The tale:
"I was already arrested several times in Africa; I had to run in several countries; I
was expelled from anothers; but I confess that I was never subject to such hummiliation
as in these last three days.
With us, in the RTP jeep, travelled two other french journalists that we invited to make
this trip (Luis Castro and Vitor Silva wanted to reach Najaf).
When we arrived at the front-lines, them (the french journalists) did not had gas masks. It
was then told to them they could not carry on.
I had two choices: either I left those same journalists in the middle of the desert, on foot;
or i'd try to transport them back, into a position where they could find gas masks or get
into a military convoy that went into Kuwait. Thats what we did. The first choice would be
We met two journalists from NBC that in the following day would return to Kuwait since they
were in the same condition as those French journalists. It was arranged that the four would
met in a defined position.
We head to the meeting point. We asked if they were already there and identified ourselves
with our credentials.
From that moment on the chaos started. After them (north-american militaries) were already
convinced we were journalists - I heard them say: "Its all right with them", they told us
to leave the car and search all the material in our jeep. They ordered us to drop on the ground
and with their feet they drove away our hands from the head. They told us not to move cause we
were on the line of fire. They pointed their guns.
After that they told us to sit turned against a wall. There we stayed. We asked them to stop
mistreating us more since it was of no use, we were journalists, and we clearly hadnt Iraqi
faces. They said that we may be spies and that the satelite-fones could be used to communicate
with the enemy forces.
That said, they placed us on the jeep. They took every electronic materials: cameras, CDs,
tapes, everything. There we stood, two or three hours, after they told us that we would stay
two or three days until the intelligence services from the army would come to pick us up.
After those two or three hours, I tried to reason with them. I said that at least we needed
to make a call to our families. They said they were soldiers and that they havent talked with
their families since long ago.
I insisted. I asked that if they had woman and kids, to remenber what they could be going through
right now and had a bit of humanity.
Four or five soldier droped on me; they placed me in the ground; one placed his foot in my neck,
another joined my feet and hands and another kicked me in my ribbons; they cuffed me, dragged me
and took me inside. One hour later I managed to reason again. I explained them that we didnt look
like enemies and we didnt understood the events. They told us to be quiet. They again placed me
in the car. There we stayed 24 hours without a single word.
One day later they come to us (other militaries) a said simply this: "No hard feelings, god
bless you. Try to understand that those men from the military police are trained like dogs:
they only know to strike."
They offered coffe. Apologized. Still, our material had to be kept, since the CIA wanted to check
what we had - it could contain content damaging to the image of the United States.
Later they placed us in a chopper and took us into Kuwait. There we stayed one night, in a
chair, waiting for those of the CIA to come question us.
That said we had the change to speak with members of the 101º brigade of aerotransported troops
that were in that position. They got mad. They felt the situation we were going through was
too humiliating. They themselves took the initiative of slashing the boxes where our stuff was.
They handed us our phones and told us to call at ease. When me and Vitor spoke with our families
they wept cause they thought we were dead.
After that, those same men commited themselves to bring us to the city of Kuwait. One of those
officers said farewell, with tears in his eyes, saying that the guys that have done that were
the shame of the USA, the shame of the american army. E that if one day he had some power in
his hands, they would never wear those uniforms again.
The american army still has our jeep. We have the guarantee that if it doesnt arrive to us in
good state, the very army will pay it to the company that rented it to us.
That we shouldnt worry. That we would be in good hands now. And that if we had any problems
to contact them again.
Luís Castro, RTP
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