That Egyptian interview with Gilad Shalit took place before any medics had a chance to check his condition. Investigative journalist Richard Behar (Forbes) blows the lid:
Last week, I sent an email to the interviewer, Shahira Amin, Egypt’s most famous TV journalist – posted afterwards in a news story.
Three days ago, she responded at great length in an email, most of which she subsequently published in an open letter in the Jerusalem Post. In her email to me, Amin defends her decision to conduct the interview with Shalit – in part because she says the interview was conducted “AFTER [her caps] he had been released by Hamas and had a medical checkup by the Red Cross.”
But here’s the problem: Red Cross spokesman Hicham Hassan wrote me today that “ICRC representatives met Mr. Shalit briefly after his transfer to the Egyptian authorities. However, he was not met by an IRC doctor as this has [sic] not been solicited.”
And just what did that mean for the interview?
“This was an illusion of choice,” says Dr. Nancy Zarse of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, an expert in hostage negotiations for the FBI, federal prisons, and the Chicago Police. “I watched the video of the interview. There was evidence of increased autonomic [nervous system] arousal, a lot of heavy breathing, and there were times that I thought he looked scared. This wasn’t really that you have the option to say no. I haven’t met or spoken with him, but I would understand that an individual like this still feels captive – that an interview like this would become part and parcel of the captivity.”
The Geneva Conventions of 1949 have long been used to protect the human dignity of current and former war prisoners. While those laws apply to governments, and not media organizations, keep in mind that the Shalit interview was conducted for Egyptian state TV – an arm of government. Since 2003, the British Red Cross and the British Government have made efforts to provide an updated interpretation of the requirement to protect prisoners of war or civilian internees against “insults and public curiosity” by TV media. For one thing, the Red Cross notes, publicity can humiliate the person and make his return to his own country more difficult. And many of those interviews are done “under duress.”
The interview wasn’t just exploitative, it was abusive and clearly a humiliating extension of Shalit’s captivity.
(Hat tip: HR reader GW)