My experience of interviewing Gaddafi

With Libya in the news, I thought I would share this piece I did for BBC News in 1995 about the Libyan economy.

As the BBC correspondent in the region, I visited Libya twice and interviewed Gaddafi during one of these trips.

It was, by far, the strangest interview I have ever done.

We were on standby all day until the call came late in the evening that Gaddafi was ready. We were taken to barracks in the capital Tripoli and escorted to a tent in the grounds where the interview would take place.

Gaddafi arrived shortly afterwards, wearing platform shoes that ensured he was the tallest person in the room.

Throughout the whole interview, he did not acknowledge myself or my camera operator, both of us Westerners.

During the interview itself, Gaddafi never once made eye contact with me. It was disconcerting to interview someone who seemed to pretend that you were not there.

I got a sense during the interview of a disconnect between the world of Gaddafi and the world outside of Tripoli. It almost seemed as if his perception reality was at odds with everyone else’s.

There is a clip from the interview in the news piece that provides a little flavour of the interview.

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