In a speech last night at the Harvard Law School, recently freed reporter David Rohde said his 10 days in a Bosnian Serb jail were petrifying but minor compared to the atrocities he covered.
The Bosnian Serb military held the Christian Science Monitor reporter on espionage charges from October 29 to November 7 after finding him taking pictures of an alleged grave for massacred Bosnian Muslims.
While covering the war in the former Yugoslavia, Rohde interviewed survivors who told him that the Bosnian Serbs had massacred 3,000 men from a "safe area" that they had invaded. He entered Bosnian Serb territory alone to find the mass graves described by the escapees.
He said he found two freshly dug graves with canes, crutches and civilian jackets on the surface Serb officials later said the graves were for "fierce Bosnian soldiers." "No soldier I know needs a cane," Rohde said.
The survivors of the massacres said the Serb soldiers blindfolded them, took them away 15 at a time in vans on the pretense of a prisoner exchange, and gunned them down, Rodhe continued.
As he was snapping a photograph of a human femur at the second grave, a Bosnian Serb soldier arrested him and charged him with being a CIA spy.
He was thrown in a 10 by 20-foot jail cell with five other prisoners.
"I was treated well, except they made me stay up all night once," Rohde said, adding that the captors often reminded him of Serbian reporters captured and killed by Bosnian an troops.
He made a televised statement from jail that he saw no evidence of mass graves, but said last night that he "was lying" to protest himself.
Rodhe said he was struck by the media coverage of his incarceration: "Everybody was more amazed by my 10 days in jail than 3,000 people being killed."