I just returned after a few days in Egypt on assignment for VG. I was covering the story where Ingvild Selvik Ask and here friend Ameer Hassan was kidnapped on the road in Sinai, Egypt. She was released by the kidnappers on Tuesday. Here is how the days where and what we did:
Day 1: I was called on Friday and asked to get on a plane leaving from Oslo to Sharm El Sheik in three hours.
Day 2: I met up with the journalist who arrived from Paris. We had a interpreter and a driver that met us at the airport in Sharm El Sheik. Then we drove on the road Ingvild was on when she was kidnapped.The video and pictures where transmitted. Later that day we met the driver in Dahab who was also kidnapped, but released. We just managed to transmit the pictures and video before deadline. After this we met up with the local police chief. He took us into the desert at 1 AM and showed us the landscape where the Bedouins rule.
Day 3: We drove from Dahab to Al-Arish. A 10-hour drive which the local police thought was unsafe for us. Therefore they insisted on giving us armored protection on parts of the journey. At some point we had four police cars with around 15 armored police officers with bullet proof vests and machine guns escorting us through the dessert. We arrived in Al-Arish at night meeting up with a journalist with good contacts with the kidnappers. We just made the deadline this day as well.
Day 4: We continued working on the story. As the day went, the police became ever more intense. At the afternoon we had so many police officers around us that it became difficult to work. They “grounded” us and denied us from traveling around in the city. They thought it was very unsafe for us to stay in Al-Arish since we where the only tourists in the city. They told us there where both bad Bedouins, extremists and other people that could have a interest of kidnapping western journalists. There where several armored police officers guarding our hotel as well as outside our room.
Day 5: We got a call of that Ingvild was released at 2 AM in the night. We “fought” with the police outside the hotel to get permission to leave before we raced to the police station she was scheduled to arrive at. We met her as the only western journalists and got the story out with both pictures and video. Later in the day we drove to Cairo, also now with police escort, before we returned home.