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Last Updated: Monday, 7 March 2005, 00:12 GMT
Transcript: Giuliana Sgrena interview
In an interview with the BBC's Newshour programme, freed Italian hostage Giuliana Sgrena began by describing the conditions in which she had been held hostage for a month.

Video grab of Giuliana Sgrena during her captivity
Sgrena is demanding an explanation from the Americans
The condition of life was not bad from the material point of view but I was in a position of risk and so you can imagine it was not easy, it was very difficult and very hard to spend the days as prisoner in Iraq.

What did your captors tell you when you were hostage?

That I needed to help them to ask [Silvio] Berlusconi to withdraw the troops. They saw all what happens in Italy, demonstrations against the occupation, demonstrations for my liberation. And so they [became] aware that I was really working against the occupation and people were supporting me and so they told me: "We have seen that you are very appreciated in Italy". And that helped me to be freed.

You then became aware presumably that negotiations were going on about your possible release.

I can't say it was deliberate because we can't say if there was a lack of information

I could imagine that negotiations were going on but I can't tell you more because I was not aware of what was the object of the negotiations. And when I was freed it was the last of my problems which kind of negotiations were going on.

You do not know whether money was paid for your freedom?

No, I don't know.

Tell us about the man [Italian security agent Nicola Calipari] who came to try and secure your release.

I saw him for the first time when he came to [collect] me. He was a very special man. I immediately felt in contact with him and he gave me hope. But this was too short because he died after half an hour.

Tell us about the car journey you shared with him.

We were on our way to the airport when the tanks started to strike against us and he tried to cover me and he was shot. He died and, me, I was safe but he was dead.

When did you become aware that your car was being fired at?

We had no signal. We were just on the way to the airport. They started to shoot at us without any light or signal. There was no block, there was nothing. It was so immediate. I didn't know how I was alive after all that attack.

Why do you think the Americans opened fire?

We were not a hidden car. We were just a car on the road with lights and we were not running without any signal. So you have to ask the Americans because we don't know what happened.

Nicola Calipari
Nicola Calipari died protecting Ms Sgrena
Did the Americans continue to fire when your car had come to a halt?

Our car was destroyed. And then the driver got out and was shouting "we're Italian, we're Italian". So they came and they saw what happened. But I was badly injured so I can't explain exactly what happened after because I was waiting for 20 minutes on the road for a military car to bring me to the hospital.

I don't know if they knew what they were doing or not but it's a big responsibility so they have to respond to what happened because it's impossible to shoot a car on a road to the airport without giving any signal, any stop or any check.

Do you think it was deliberate?

I can't say it was deliberate because we can't say if there was a lack of information. But also a lack of information in this case is [their] responsibility because you are in a war field and you have the responsibility to pass immediately any information.

The information was given to the Italians to tell the Americans that we were on the road. Now, I can't say why they shot at us in this way but it's a very big responsibility and we ask for a response on what happened.

So what did this security agent do when he heard the firing?

When the driver said "they're attacking us", one of the [agents] tried to say we're Italians but it was impossible to get out of the car because the car was under this rain of fire.

And the other one tried to protect me and he died. I was pushing down to avoid the bullets and after I don't know how long, I found that he was dead.

He died in your arms?

Yes.

How do you feel about the man who saved your life?

I am very, very sad and feel pain for him. I'm sorry not to be able to go to the funeral because I am in hospital.

He was a brave man.

Yes.


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