NEW YORK: CBS news foreign correspondent Lara Logan has broken her silence on her Feb. 11 sexual assault in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, recounting in an interview released Thursday that she thought she was going to die.
Logan, 40, was in Cairo reporting for the CBS television news show "60 Minutes" when she was encircled by a mob of 200-300 men and sexually assaulted.
"There was no doubt in my mind that I was in the process of dying," she told 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley, who conducted the interview, which will be aired on Sunday. "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 South African-born Logan, one of the US media’s most recognizable war correspondents, had been in the square interviewing Egyptians about the downfall of president Hosni Mubarak.
"There was a moment that everything went wrong," she told the New York Times in a separate interview. As her cameraman was changing a battery, Egyptian members of her film crew heard people in the crowd talking about wanting to take Ms. Logan’s pants off. "Our local people with us said, ‘We’ve gotta get out of here,’" Logan told the newspaper. "That was literally the moment the mob set on me," Logan said.
"For an extended period of time, they raped me with their hands," Logan told the Times.
After about half an hour, Logan was rescued by a group of Egyptian civilians and soldiers. She was flown back to the United States, where she spent four days in the hospital. Logan told the newspaper that she decided almost immediately that she would talk about the incident.
Logan said the assault had opened her eyes.
Before the incident, Logan said she had not been aware of the degree of harassment experienced by women in Egypt and elsewhere.
"I would have paid more attention to it if I had had any sense of it," she said. "When women are harassed and subjected to this in society, they’re denied an equal place in that society. Public spaces don’t belong to them. Men control it. It reaffirms the oppressive role of men in the society."
Logan told the Times that after the 60 Minutes segment is aired, she does not plan to give any more interviews about her experience. "I don’t want this to define me," she said.
CBS News chairman Jeff Frager said Logan’s decision to talk about her assault should raise awareness of the issue. "There’s a code of silence about it that I think is in Lara’s interest and in our interest to break," he said.