Tuesday, 25 December 2007

State Troopers: The Conclusion

I'm standing still for about an hour, as I try to humour the bomb-disposal Trooper and Robert's interrogation continues with the Sergeant. Finally the Sergeant lets Robert walk outside for another cigarette, and asks me over for some questions. He doesn't make small talk like the Trooper, he gets straight to the point, definitely someone who wants to assert his authority. But he's also fair enough to answer me with respect when I ask him questions.

He wears a round hat that makes him look like a Canadian Mountie.
"The situation is," he tells me "we got a call from Robert's sister saying she was concerned that he was planing on deserting the army,"
"Oh," I reply, saying as little as possible. I don't t want to let on that I know, but I also don't want to deny that I know in case he finds out eventually that I'm lying. One thing I've learned from interrogation at Israeli airports: if you don't know what they know, it's always safer to tell the truth - as incriminating as it may be - than to be caught lying.

I tell the Sergeant as little as I can get away with. I always feel, in situations like this, that I have a certain degree of immunity as a journalist. It may not be true, but at least it gives me the confidence to look the Sergeant in the eye and tell him what he wants to know. He radios in my information to another officer, and I lean in to overhear pieces of the conversation.

"I've got this journalist with me from Britain. I heard something about Al-Jazeera, he says he's doing a documentary."

As relaxed as I feel, and as calm as Robert looks, I'm still convinced that it's all over, that they're here to arrest Robert and as soon as they hear from his unit, they'll take him away in handcuffs.

But this doesn't happen. To my surprise, when the Sergeant finally lets me outside to talk to Robert, he's enjoying a cigarette with the bomb-disposal officer. They're discussing Robert's position as a conscientious objector.
"We're not holding you, you're free to fly now, we're just trying to clear this up," he tells Robert.

Inside, bomb-disposal officer wants to ask me a few questions, so I turn the camera to him.
"Oh, they have nothing to do with this," he explains "I just want to know how I can put my own videos on YouTube. I don't get it. I'm not good with technology. You got three wires; red, yellow and black and I don't know what to do with them!"

No comments: