On ‘60 Minutes,’ Lara Logan describes assault in Cairo

April 28, 2011

After two months of silence, CBS News correspondent Lara Logan has returned to work and she describes in an interview Sunday with “60 Minutes” the sexual assault she endured.

Logan and her crew were reporting in Cairo’s Tahrir Square about the historic fall of Hosni Mubarak’s government when her translator heard some of the men in the crowd tease in Arabic that they wanted to take Logan’s pants off.

Within seconds, a powerful mob of 200 to 300 men did just that and sexually assaulted Logan, who was on assignment for “60 Minutes,” covering the Feb 11 uprising.

Logan was grabbed away from her bodyguard, a former member of Britain’s elite military special services. The mob ripped off her clothes and beat her for more than 40 minutes. She prayed she would survive, according to pre-released transcripts of her first television interview since the assault.

“There was no doubt in my mind that I was in the process of dying,” she tells Scott Pelley, who conducted the interview. “I thought not only am I going to die, but it’s going to be just a torturous death that’s going to go on forever.”

The promotional clip shows a steely and determined Logan, interspersed with chaotic crowd footage taken by a CBS cameraman moments before she was separated from her producer, Max McClellan, and cameraman Richard Butler by the mob.

Logan’s attack ended when a group of Egyptian women and soldiers helped her. The soldiers drove her and her team back to their hotel, according to CBS. She returned to the United States the next day and was treated in a hospital for four days.

Logan will also appear in an interview on the “60 Minutes’’ webcast, 60MinutesOvertime.com.

Her attack spotlighted the dangers for female journalists working abroad, especially in countries with unfolding wars and a crumbling rule of law where protections for women are stripped away and there is often little recourse. ABC’s Christiane Amanpour and Fox News Channel’s Greg Palkot and Olaf Wiig also faced physical assault and intimidation during the protests that swept Mubarak from his post.

After Logan’s attack, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) began a wide study of female journalists working around the world and the sexual violence and daily threats they face, said Lauren Wolfe, senior editor.

“We have spoken to dozens of journalists around the world, both local and foreign, who have told us about instances of sexual violence from groping to rape. Logan’s attack ended the code of silence about this issue,” said Wolfe, who added that Logan is on the board of CPJ. “We’re also studying the treatment of local women journalists who live in these countries and may endure even more trauma. ”

Women journalists often fear reporting more-daily cases of groping and sexual violence because they don’t want to be taken off the story. Logan’s case was an extreme example of the abuse females face covering stories.

Logan, who began her first full day back in her “60 Minutes” office this week, told colleagues that she hoped her story would give courage to other victims of sexual assault and she looked forward to returning to the field.

Staff writer Paul Farhi contributed to this report.

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