Kidnapped journalist recalls hostage terror

A British journalist kidnapped in Iraq told tonight how he feared he would die at the hands of his captors.

A British journalist kidnapped in Iraq told tonight how he feared he would die at the hands of his captors.

James Brandon was subjected to mock executions during his 20-hour ordeal last week.

In his first televised interview since his release, the 23-year-old spoke of his terror after his kidnappers thwarted an escape bid.

He had cut through rope binding his hands and feet and made a dash for freedom armed with a knife, but within minutes was recaptured.

Mr Brandon said: “Only after five minutes the kidnappers showed up. I was beaten up pretty badly, dragged into a pick-up truck and driven off.

“I had taken some big blows to the back of my head so the whole of my chest was covered in blood. They mopped up the blood and then a video camera appeared.”

Speaking exclusively to ITV News, Mr Brandon continued: “I thought, ‘this is it’. This really is the end. They are going to kill me and they are going to film it.”

The reporter was freed last Friday afternoon, apparently following the intervention of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

He was dropped off at a British army base after his release. He said of his ordeal: “It makes you take stock of life, waking up and seeing the sun. It makes you appreciate everything.”

Mr Brandon was abducted at the Diafa Hotel in Basra by a gang last Thursday. The captors accused the Briton of being a spy working for the CIA.

He appeared in a filmed video message in which his captors threatened to kill him if US troops did not stop fighting in the holy city of Najaf.

The former York University history student was in Iraq to join the Baghdad Bulletin, a now defunct independent magazine set up in the aftermath of the fall of Saddam Hussein.

During his 10 months in Iraq Mr Brandon, who speaks some Arabic, wrote for newspapers including the Scotsman, the Independent and the Sunday Telegraph.

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