Journalist tells of his Basra kidnap ordeal

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The Independent Online

The British journalist James Brandon yesterday told of terrifying beatings and mock executions at the hands of his kidnappers in Iraq.

The British journalist James Brandon yesterday told of terrifying beatings and mock executions at the hands of his kidnappers in Iraq.

Mr Brandon, 23, said his captors took it in turns to put unloaded pistols to his head while he was blindfolded and pull the trigger. Despite telling them he was a journalist, the group of 30, who abducted him from the Diafa Hotel in Basra on Thursday, accused him of working for the CIA.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Brandon, from London, described the worst part of his 20-hour ordeal as being "like a bad film". He said: "All I could feel was the cold steel of the muzzle of one of my abductors' pistols being pressed to my temple. Then came a chilling silence ... broken only, seconds later, by the terrifying metallic click of the trigger being pulled."

He escaped from the house but his captors found him and beat him. They later filmed a video message, threatening to kill him unless US troops stopped fighting in the holy city of Najaf.

"I began planning to ask my kidnappers whether I could be shot rather than beheaded because it would be a quicker, less messy death," Mr Brandon said. He was freed on Friday after what is thought to have been the intervention of the radical Shia cleric Muqtada Sadr.

Mr Brandon, who spent his first day of freedom at a British base in Basra, said the ordeal had not put him off working in Iraq.

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