WHEREVER THEY MAY BE
© 1972, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
 
 
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"Did you expect to be harassed after that?"
I expected I'd have visitors. And indeed, toward 4 o'clock a Palestinian press correspondent for an American press agency arrived. His Beirut office had appraised him of my "mission." You must remember that there are no Western journalists in Damascus. The rare correspondents of Western agencies are all local people, and thus answerable to Syrian authorities. This correspondent interviewed me in his office, with a second correspondent, a Syrian woman. Of course, they were not carried away with enthusiasm for my action. Back at my hotel I found local correspondents of AFP and Reuters. They were not moderate in their criticism. Later, one of the first correspondents called to tell me that the authorities had censured him for seeing me without their clearance. They had learned of the telegrams sent to Beirut and had issued an order to "kill" all news concerning me. Thus no further news about me went out from Damascus. The censorship had acted effectively.

"How did you spend the night?"
Sobbing into my blanket. I had expected to find sunshine in Damascus when I left Paris. All this time, Serge and our LICA friends were trying to reach me by phone. But I had been effectively isolated. After censoring the press, they cut off my phone. At midnight the hotel operator was telling Paris that I was not expected to return that night. This must have worried my family and friends. I had also tried to phone Paris, but the hotel kept telling me they couldn't get the call through. Early in the morning Serge managed to get an alert through to the French Embassy in Damascus. They immediately called the hotel and asked for me. As if by a miracle I found myself in the lobby where a phone was handed to me. It was a friend, Elisabeth Hajdenberg; I reassured her that I was all right. Apparently the Syrians had reached a decision about their stance toward me during the night. After a visit from the French consul, M. Besson, who had very courteously gone out of his way to come and see me and then telephone Serge in Paris, the Syrian authorities made contact with me.

"Whom did you see first?"
A Syrian woman phoned me as though nothing had happened. The conversation went as follows: "My name is Colette Khoury. I am a poet. I understand you are a journalist passing through Damascus."
    
   
 
WHEREVER THEY MAY BE
© 1972, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
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