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Journalist recounts Israeli raid experience -

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Fairfax journalist Paul McGeough, released after being detained during Israel's ship raid, speaks
to Lateline of his experience.

Transcript

LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Thousands have gathered in Turkey to mourn the deaths of the activists
killed in the Israeli raid on an aid convoy heading to Gaza. The country's prime minister says
Turkey will never forget this attack on its ships and its people.

Fairfax journalist Paul McGeough was on a boat in the aid flotilla and experienced the raid first
hand. He arrived in Turkey yesterday morning after being deported from Israel and to discuss his
experience he joins me now from Istanbul.

Paul McGeough, Binyamin Netanyahu says that the people on these boats were violent supporters of
terror, that they were armed and that basically they were spoiling for a fight. What do you say to
that?

PAUL MCGEOUGH, FAIRFAX JOURNALIST: Um ... some of the people on the ships did have angle-grinders
which they used to sever some of the metal spikes that held the little chain fences around the
lifeboats. What they did with them was difficult to see from the vantage point that I was at. The
Israeli government has put out video of an unseen person, which they say - who they say was being
beaten by people wielding these spikes. They've yet to produce the person who was being beaten and
there's been no suggestion that they know who it was.

Talking - I've spent a long time talking to people who were on the ship in question. You hear
varying accounts. I've not been told of anyone wielding spikes to hit anyone. The first soldiers
who were dropped from the helicopters, I'm told, were beaten with fists by a few people or a group
of people who were on the top deck as they landed on the deck, but I've also been told by several
people who were there that the leaders on the ship moved in very quickly to protect those people
and several people have told me that they were then offered medical assistance.

LEIGH SALES: As journalists, once the raid occurred, were you and Kate Geraghty treated any
differently to the others on the boat?

PAUL MCGEOUGH: Absolutely not. They lost all their gear, we lost all our gear. We were ordered
around at the point of a gun. Kate copped the belt of a taser, a stun gun on her arm. In fact some
of the accents in amongst the team of commanders that came on to the fly-bridge of the boat that we
were on had Australian accents. We said: "We're with the Sydney Morning Herald" - we claimed our
rights as journalists and the response was: "We know you're from the Herald". And the other one
followed up with: "No worries".

LEIGH SALES: What about when you arrived at the prison? What was the situation there?

PAUL MCGEOUGH: Total disregard bordering on contempt for any suggestion that journalists were
entitled to any sort of special treatment. We were told that - notwithstanding the fact that we had
been dragged into the country - we were told we had entered illegally. It was quite a chaotic
situation. At one stage we were all dragged into a small office where, when I arrived into that
office the gentleman sitting behind a desk who told me he was a judge was chomping on a sausage
roll.

He had the flag of the nation behind him but he also had his sausage roll in his hand. He said to
me I had entered the country without a visa. I said that I'd been coming to Israel for the last 20
years on at least 20 occasions and had never applied for a visa. That threw him a bit. He went and
consulted and came back said, "but you still broke the law". So, it - what you seemed to have was a
situation where they were desperate to get everyone out of the country as quickly as they could.
Israel has a very strong view about anyone who lays a finger on any of its troops.

The notion that they were prepared to deport all, notwithstanding their belief that some of these
people were wielding bars to break the heads of their troops, tells you either that - tells you one
of two things: that they don't really believe that and they don't think there's a believable case
to stand up, or they did realise the absolute mess they had created for themselves internationally
and they just wanted to try and get it over and done with as quickly as possible.

LEIGH SALES: Paul McGeough in Istanbul, we'll have to leave it there. Thank you.