ABC News journalist Christiane Amanpour landed an exclusive interview with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Thursday after she went to his palace to speak to someone else.
The veteran foreign correspondent made it to the interview only after talking her way past an angry mob that had surrounded her car.
Ms. Amanpour wrote in a reporter’s notebook on ABC’s website that she left for the Presidential Palace after being granted an interview with new Vice President Omar Suleiman. Ms. Amanpour, who worked at CNN before joining ABC last year, wasn’t available to talk about the experience, a network spokeswoman said.
While ABC’s camera crew was setting up for the Suleiman interview, Ms. Amanpour asked to see Mr. Mubarak, whom she had interviewed in the past.
“Within what seemed like just minutes, I was whisked into a reception room where he was waiting,” she wrote. “He greeted me warmly, and we started to talk. He looked tired, but well.”
Mr. Mubarak, in power for nearly three decades, has been under heavy pressure from demonstrators to leave office, and everyday life in Cairo has been turned upside down by the largest anti-government protests in Egypt in decades. He told Ms. Amanpour that he’d like to leave office now but fears the country would sink deeper into chaos. He blamed an outlawed opposition group for the violence, with protesters and government supporters engaged in rock-throwing battles.
Ms. Amanpour’s interview was off camera. She said she asked Mr. Mubarak after the conversation whether she could report on it and he said yes.
Because of Mr. Mubarak’s supporters, Ms. Amanpour almost didn’t make it to the Presidential Palace. She was caught up in the menacing atmosphere that many journalists, including herself the day before, have been facing in reporting on the country’s unrest. Her car was stopped by traffic in a neighbourhood where pro—Mubarak demonstrators had set up checkpoints, and it was surrounded by an angry mob, she wrote.
To get through took about an hour’s negotiation, ended only when she showed a soldier official papers confirming her interview with Mr. Suleiman, she said.
“Nobody was hurt and nobody was attacked,” she wrote, “but it was clearly an uncertain and unsettling hour.”