Martin Fletcher snuck into a country he was not supposed to see.
The associate editor of the Times of London managed to get into Syria to report on the situation there despite Bashar al-Assad‘s decree that no journalists were allowed to enter.
How did he do it?
Simple: “I went into Syria as tourist,” he told CNN. “I was amazed they let me in, but they did.”
Once in Damascus, he took a bus to the city of Homs and stayed in a hotel where he was the only guest. He thinks he was the only foreign journalist is in the city.
Signs of the regime where everywhere.
“Most of the main intersections were guarded by four tanks, one pointing each way,” he said. “I counted at least 100 tanks on the street.”
Eventually, Fletcher was arrested when officials at a checkpoint saw passport stamps from Libya and Egypt.
He was taken to a secret detention facility where he saw a large pile of belts and shoelaces that belonged to the young men held in a room down the hall. Syrian officials kept Fletcher for six hours, during which time he saw a number of other young men brought in and detained.
He thinks the Syrian dissidents will have trouble overthrowing the government. For one, there are “tens of thousands” of them rather than the “hundreds of thousands” that turned out in Egypt and Libya.
Additionally, “I was surprised, actually, at how much support Assad has,” he said. “He has, and this is crucial, the total support of his military.”