DAMASCUS – In an extraordinary exchange with Yahoo News, Syrian president Bashar Assad was confronted with photographs documenting the torture of political prisoners by his government. The Syrian president dismissed them as “allegations” and “fake news.”
The photos, smuggled out of Syria by a former regime photographer, were part of a 3,600-page dossier compiled by human-rights lawyers and cited in a lawsuit last week filed in a Spanish court by a Syrian immigrant whose brother was arrested and “disappeared” in prison. The woman claims she recognized her brother among the brutally beaten prisoners in the photos.
“Who verified the pictures? Who verified that they’re not edited and Photoshopped and so on?” Assad asked a reporter. “Do you have a photo? Can you show it to me?”
Assad was handed three of the photos showing emaciated, scarred corpses lined up in one of his military prisons and given a copy of an FBI lab report that concluded the photos showed no signs of manipulation and “appear to depict real people and events.”
“If the FBI says something, it’s not evidence for anyone, especially for us,” he retorted. “It’s just propaganda. It’s just fake news. They want to demonize the Syrian government. In every war, you can have individual crime. It happened here, all over the world, anywhere. But it’s not a policy.”
As with all interviews granted by President Bashar Assad, this interview was filmed by his presidential press office. No editorial changes were made to the content.
Read more from the Yahoo News Exclusive interview with Syrian President Assad:
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- Exclusive: Syria’s president said he would ‘welcome’ American troops into his country to fight ISIS
- Exclusive: Assad of Syria says he would step down ‘if there is public consensus’