Defiant Assad tells Yahoo News torture report Is ‘fake news’

In another segment of his interview with Yahoo News released Friday, Syrian President Bashar Assad defiantly said allegations by Amnesty International of torture and mass hangings in Syrian prisons were the product of a “fake news era” and were fabricated to discredit his embattled government, Yahoo News reported.

Assad also insisted in the interview the United States had no grounds to condemn Syria for human rights abuses, pointing to the invasion of Iraq and to American support for Saudi Arabia, a country that beheads prisoners.The Amnesty International report, estimating between 5,000 and 13,000 prisoners were killed in a “calculated campaign of extrajudicial execution” at a military prison outside of Damascus between 2011 and December 2015, drew the following response from Assad, the report said: “We are living in a fake news era.”

“The United States is in no position to talk about human rights.” Challenged over the issue by Yahoo News Chief Investigative correspondent Michael Issikoff, Assad grew contentious, saying at one point, “You own the questions. I own the answers.”

During the interview, Assad was also confronted for the first time with graphic photographs taken by a former regime photographer, code named Caesar, depicting rows of emaciated, brutally beaten bodies of detainees — many of them believed to be political protesters — at his military prisons. The photographs — which U.S. officials have likened to images from Nazi concentration camps — were the basis for a landmark lawsuit filed in Spain’s National Court last week accusing nine senior Syrian intelligence and security officials of international human rights crimes, the report said.

Assad at first suggested the photos may have been edited and “Photoshopped.”

However, shown an FBI report concluding the photos were not manipulated and appeared to depict “real people and events,” Assad dismissed it. “If the FBI say something, it’s not evidence for anyone, especially for us,” he said. “The most important thing: If you take these photos to any court in our country, could they convict any criminal regarding this? Could they tell you what this crime is, who committed it? If you don’t have this full picture, you cannot make judgment. It’s just propaganda,” the report quotes Assad saying.

This was first published on article.wn.com on February 10th 2017.