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Americans ‘prayed for death’ after being captured by Russia in Ukraine

Oct 03, 2022

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Two Americans who were captured for helping Ukraine fight off Russia’s invasion have begun sharing their experience in captivity with major news outlets. U.S. military veterans Alex Drueke and Andy Huynh were released by Russian-backed separatists as part of a prisoner exchange just over a week ago.

“Surreal. I still have chill bumps. I always imagined this day. I always held not just hope but belief in this day,” Drueke’s aunt Dianna Shaw said of Drueke’s return last month. “I thought it was going to be two or three years from now at best. There are prisoners of war who have been held for months and years.”

For Drueke and Huynh, their time in captivity was roughly three months. For Drueke and Huynh, that was long enough. They describe extensive mental and physical abuse. Drueke said he suffered from food deprivation, being bound, blindfolded, beaten, subject to recording Russia propaganda and constantly threatened of execution during intense interrogation

“Every one of our human rights were violated,” Drueke said. “We were tortured.”

Saudi Arabia made a deal with Russia and 10 prisoners were released as a result. It was on the drive over to the Russian airport that Drueke describes as his breaking point. His hands were bound. His head was covered by a plastic bag and the packing tape holding it in place was secured so tightly it caused welts on his forehead that are still visible weeks later. Drueke said he and fellow American prisoner, Andy Huynh, reached their limit in this state during the transit.

“For all we went through and all the times we thought we might die, we accepted that we might die, we were ready to die when it came, that ride was the only time that each of us independently prayed for death just to get it over with,” Drueke told The Associated Press in an interview Friday.

U.N. human rights investigators have said captured American and Ukrainian prisoners of the Ukraine war appear to be facing “systematic” mistreatment by Russia that includes torture. Drueke and Huynh’s new mission is bringing awareness and helping prisoners undergoing the same torture they say they experienced in Russia.

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{“The mental and emotional torture of the last 24 hours in captivity that, that was the worst.”}
[LABEL FOR SECOND VIDEO ON: SEPT. 24, 2022 | BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA]
FOR THE FIRST TIME…WE’RE HEARING FROM AN AMERICAN RECENTLY SAVED FROM RUSSIAN CAPTIVITY.
ALEX DRUEKE AND ANDY HUYNH WERE AMONG HUNDREDS OF U.S. CITIZENS WHO FLEW TO UKRAINE EARLY ON IN THE FIGHT AGAINST RUSSIA.
THEY WERE BOTH CAPTURED AND WOULD SPEND THREE MONTHS IN CONFINEMENT.
AS PRISONERS, THEY DESCRIBE UNDERGOING MENTAL AND PHYSICAL ABUSE…INCLUDING FOOD DEPRIVATION, BEING BOUND, BLINDFOLDED, BEATEN.
IN A DEAL WITH SAUDI ARABIA, RUSSIA RELEASED 10 PRISONERS.
DRUEKE AND HUYNH WERE TWO OF THEM.
BUT THEY SAY IT WAS THE DRIVE TO THE AIRPORT…THEIR RIDE TO FREEDOM…THAT ALMOST BROKE THEM.
PLASTIC BAGS WRAPPED SO TIGHTLY AROUND THEIR HEADS, WELTS ARE STILL VISIBLE.
{“We both said to each other that for all we went through and all the times we thought we might die, we accepted that we might die, we were ready to die when it came, that ride was the only time that each of us independently prayed for death just to get it over with.”}
THE UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS INVESTIGATORS HAVE SAID PRISONERS ARE EXPERIENCING ‘SYSTEMIC’ MISTREATMENT FROM RUSSIAN CAPTORS.
NOW DRUEKE AND HUYNH SAY THEIR NEW MISSION IS TO BRING AWARENESS AND HELP THE OTHER PRISONERS STILL THERE.


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