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26 Jul, 2014 13:48

RT contributor's ordeal in Ukraine: Arrested, blindfolded, no guarantee of living

British journalist Graham Phillips tells RT of how his life has been thrown into disarray by his ordeal in Ukraine, speaking of recent cyberattacks and electronic account hackings, and his three days being held by the security services.

“I was put in a room next to an artillery position that they were firing heavily from, that was being fired on,” Phillips told RT, adding that his bulletproof vest had been seized despite the violence.

He said that he was blindfolded, given no guarantee that he was going to live, and called a terrorist.

“A soldier said that if he couldn’t confirm my details then he couldn’t guarantee that I was going to live. I was blindfolded,” Phillips said.

“I’ve been called an enemy of the state,” the RT contributor, who has been extensively covering the conflict in eastern Ukraine, recalled. “There was no representation given to me.”

He added that he discovered upon release that all of his electronic accounts had been hacked:

“My Twitter account, my email account, my YouTube account – which is obviously my main livelihood – someone has deleted 2,000 videos from that.”

I've been on a train to Warsaw for the past 12 hours, offline, in that time everything written in all of my accounts wasn't me.

— GrahamWPhillips (@GrahamWP_UK) July 26, 2014

Phillips was deported to Poland on Friday, following his arrest at Donetsk airport on Tuesday night.

He will now not be allowed to re-enter the country for three years. He was taken to Kiev, put in a van, and taken to the border: “…told I was deported and banned for three years.”

“I’ve been deported from a country I own a flat in,” Phillips said.

The journalist will not be allowed to re-enter the country for three years. Ukraine’s Security Service said that the official reason for the deportation was the threat Phillips presented to the "state security, sovereignty and territorial integrity" of Ukraine.

He added that he has a history of defending and praising Ukraine in the run-up to Euro 2012, when other journalists were being discouraging.

“I was the one…defending Ukraine, praising Ukraine,” Phillips said.

I'm really really disappointed to have lost 2000 videos. But, I'm alive, I'm not beaten, I'll make 4000 more videos telling the real story.

— GrahamWPhillips (@GrahamWP_UK) July 26, 2014

He said the only reason given was that he works for RT and was therefore considered an enemy agent. He added that RT had received a message from 'Graham' confirming he was fine, but he said he hadn't sent it.

“This is something that’s happened in a lot of countries where you have a war or a civil war going on,” investigative journalist Dave Lindorff told RT. “Participants are loath to have independent journalists nosing around the battlefield…they have to be embedded with the troops,” he said.

He commented on Graham’s unique treatment, being held hostage, and having his online presence damaged. “This is more what you see criminal thugs do than a government,” Lindorff said.