Kidnapped, tortured and thrown in jail: my 70 days in Sudan

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Twelve years after reporting on the conflict in Darfur, film-maker Phil Cox returned. But this time, the Sudanese government put a price on his head

In the early morning of 24 December 2016, my friend Daoud and I lay side by side on a blanket, our legs chained at the ankles, secured with heavy padlocks. The sun beat down on the desert. We pleaded with our captors to be moved to the shade, but they ignored us. It was not how I had imagined spending Christmas Eve.

Sixteen days earlier, Daoud Hari, my local producer and translator, had crossed with me from Chad into Sudan. We had planned to make a film in the war-ravaged Darfur region, where no independent journalist had entered for years. We had come to investigate what was happening on the ground, and to follow up allegations that chemical weapons were being used by the Sudanese government against its own citizens. Instead we had been tracked by the Sudanese military and captured by a local militia. At this point, we had no idea what would happen to us.

Related: The forgotten mountains: a journey into the heart of rebel-held Darfur – in pictures

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