On Tuesday night, Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of the activist grassroots group Code Pink, spent a harrowing night in an Egyptian jail cell. She live-tweeted her experience.
It was a little after 8 p.m. on the United States’ East Coast when she first posted about the situation on Twitter.
“I’m being held in a jail at Cairo airport!!!” Benjamin, co-founder of the activist group Code Pink, tweeted at 8:08 p.m. ET. It was the first of many messages she was able to send about the experience.
In a phone interview with Business Insider Tuesday, Benjamin claimed she was held in the Cairo airport’s jail for about seven hours. She tweeted the highlights — from her “meal” of stale bread and water to the point when border police twisted her arm so hard while putting her into handcuffs they allegedly fractured her arm and dislocated her shoulder.
“I thank God for Twitter,” Medea told Business Insider from a hospital clinic in Istanbul, where she had been sent from Cairo. “Were it not for Twitter, I think I would still be rotting in that cell.”
Benjamin traveled to Cairo to join an international delegation of about 100 women as it prepared to head to Gaza for an International Women’s Day event on March 8.
She told Business Insider she was able to keep tweeting because border police did not confiscate her phone, despite taking away most of her other possessions. To be sure, she hid her cell phone deep in her pants pocket and only periodically reached in to share some details about her plight.
She tweeted a photo of her jail cell:
And her meal:
Benjamin claimed she never got an explanation as to why she was held — though a Code Pink co-worker later told her she was on some sort of “black list for national security reasons.”
After about seven hours in her cell, Benjamin was taken out by what she described as “five very scary-looking thugs,” who began the process of sending her out of the country on a plane to Istanbul in decidedly rough fashion.
“What they did is grab me — they threw me down onto the floor. They stomped on my back. They got my hands behind my back, put on very, very tight handcuffs, and then I heard my arm go out of its socket,” she said.
“I kept saying to them, ‘I’m in pain, I’m in pain! Stop pulling on my arm!'”
Benjamin said two of the five “thugs” came with her onto a plane to Turkey, which she said she was forced on despite the need to seek immediate medical help. She said there was a surgeon on the plane who was able to put her shoulder back into her socket.
By Tuesday afternoon in Istanbul, Benjamin said she he received proper medical attention, pausing our phone interview at one point to receive a painkiller injection. Benjamin said her experience halted her plans to join the women’s delegation.
“Someone is going to have to be held responsible,” she said.
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