Lara Logan thought she was going to die in Tahrir Square when she was sexually assaulted by a mob on the night that Hosni Mubarak’s government fell in Cairo.
Logan, a CBS News correspondent, was in the square preparing a report for “60 Minutes” on Feb. 11 when the celebratory mood suddenly turned threatening. She was ripped away from her producer and bodyguard by a group of men who tore at her clothes and groped and beat her body.
“For an extended period of time, they raped me with their hands,” Logan said in an interview with The New York Times. She estimated that the attack lasted for about 40 minutes and involved 200 to 300 men.
Logan, who returned to work this month, is expected to speak at length about the assault on “60 Minutes” on Sunday night.
The assault happened the day that Logan returned to Cairo, having left a week earlier after being detained and interrogated by Egyptian forces.
“The city was on fire with celebration” over Mubarak’s exit, she said, comparing it to a Super Bowl party. She and a camera crew traversed Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the celebrations, interviewing Egyptians and posing for photographs with people who wanted to be seen with an American journalist.
“There was a moment that everything went wrong,” she recalled.
As the cameraman, Richard Butler, was swapping out a battery, Egyptian colleagues who were accompanying the camera crew heard men nearby talking about wanting to take Logan’s pants off. She said: “Our local people with us said, ‘We’ve gotta get out of here.’ That was literally the moment the mob set on me.”
Butler, Logan’s producer, Max McClellan, and two locally hired drivers were “helpless,” Jeff Fager, the chairman of CBS News said, “because the mob was just so powerful.”
She declined to go into more detail about the assault but said: “What really struck me was how merciless they were. They really enjoyed my pain and suffering. It incited them to more violence.”
After being rescued by a group of civilians and Egyptian soldiers, she was swiftly flown back to the United States
After the “60 Minutes” segment is broadcast, though, she does not intend to give other interviews on the subject. “I don’t want this to define me,” she said.
Among the letters she received, she said, was one from a woman who lives in Canada who was raped in the back of a taxi cab in Cairo in early February, amid the protests there.
“That poor woman had to go into the airport begging people to help her,” Logan recalled. When she returned home, “her family told her not to talk about it.”
Logan said that as she read the letter, she started to sob. “It was a reminder to me of how fortunate I was,” she said.