‘Prayed for death’: Americans freed from Russia claim torture at ‘black site’


Andy Huynh and Alexander Drueke are interviewed by ABC News, Oct. 12, 2022.


We prayed for death. We just wanted to die,”
Alex Drueke and Andy Huynh, two Alabama residents who were detained by Russians in Ukraine over the summer and held in a “black site” for a month where they claimed they were subjected to daily torture and subsisted on stale bread and contaminated water, said they anticipated their deaths at any moment.
“I am going to die from this situation, or they are going to kill me,” Drueke said he thought during that time.
“We prayed for death. We just wanted to die. We just wanted it to end,” Huynh added.
During their captivity by Russians in Ukraine over the summer, Alex Drueke and Andy Huynh from Alabama said they were subjected to daily torture and subsisted on stale bread while being detained in a “black site” for a month.
“I did not go over there to fight specifically. But I understood that that was a very real possibility,” Drueke said. What he and Huynh shared, he said, was concern that the Russian invasion of Ukraine would be successful and then spread across Europe.
“We could see that there was a very good possibility this could grow into something much, much larger … We didn’t know how big this was going to get. So it was best to stop it early,” he said. Drueke, 40, retired from the U.S. Army after 12 years, during which he served two tours of duty in Iraq and ended his career as a platoon sergeant.

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When Andy Huynh and Alex Drueke were detained by Russians in Ukraine over the summer and imprisoned there for a month, the two Alabama men claimed they were subjected to daily abuse and subsisted on stale bread.
“It felt wrong just to sit back and do nothing,” he said. For the following month, the invasion “kept gnawing” at him until he was losing sleep. “I didn’t want to do nothing. The situation in Ukraine was all I could really think about.”

Alexander Drueke and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh are Americans who had volunteered to join the Ukrainian forces. Both are now missing in Ukraine.

Early in April, both men arrived in Ukraine.
They each entered the nation via Poland and, due to various events, ended up serving in a unit for the Ukrainian Foreign Legion.
A mission gone awry led to their capture on June 9 of the following year, two months later.
Both guys acknowledged that they would refrain from providing specifics in order to protect Ukraine’s ongoing operations, but they did claim that the incident did occur during a drone reconnaissance mission that involved scouting out potential intelligence sources.
Everything that might go wrong did, according to Drueke.


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“It was very unfortunate how it played out, but just everything went wrong,” and the two men found themselves facing a battalion where a firefight broke out, he said. They evaded capture for eight hours after running through thick woods where they dodged active drones and land mines they said. Eventually, they said they were surrounded, ordered to their knees, their hands bound, and bags thrust over their heads. “We were pretty darn sure they were going to execute us right then and there,” Drueke said.
Both men were transferred to outposts before being placed in a “black site,” where they claimed they were interrogated, physically assaulted, denied sleep, and made to sit for extended periods of time while wearing blindfolds, on their knees, and with their hands crossed over their necks.
The ribs of Drueke were violently broken.
A photo that appears to show missing Americans Alex Drueke and Andy Huynh in captivity is being circulated and is being investigated by the State Department, according to Drueke’s family.
The thought of their families was what kept them going. Drueke, who is not married, left behind an extensive family and his dog, Diesel, while Huynh got engaged only days before departing. They claimed that when they were confined, their only goal was to protect the other person.
“We were bonded for life,” Drueke said. “My mission was to keep Andy alive, and his mission was to keep me alive. And that’s all it was.”
The men spent 105 days in captivity before their release in late September, along with eight other foreign-born volunteer fighters from England and Canada and more than 200 Ukrainian soldiers. During their captivity, Russians forced them to make propaganda videos, give interviews to journalists sympathetic to Russia and contact different government agencies in the U.S., including the State Department. Drueke, who his captors chose as the duo’s spokesperson, was allowed to make frequent calls to his family in Tuscaloosa. Those calls, Drueke said, were made under duress.
“The guys beating me were in the room with me,” he said.
They claimed that as well as other prisoners in the wagon, their bodies were heaped on top of one another during transportation. They endured solitary confinement in jail.
They said that their captors believed them to be spies but were mistaken. Huynh remarked, “They wanted people to think we were unique.
The men are now inseparable with their families, who grew closer while they were away. They declared that they had no regrets and that they would be willing to assist reconstruct Ukraine once the fighting was over.  Drueke asserted that he thinks their capture assisted the Biden administration in opening previously closed avenues to Ukraine. I hope we made a difference, he remarked.  The same places where civilians have been detained for more than three months remain their prisons.
“We feel guilty that we got traded and they are still there … That’s one of the worst feelings you can have,” Huynh said.
Despite the fact that Ukrainians will require ongoing humanitarian assistance for years, they expressed their conviction that their nation will defeat Russia.
“[Russian President Vladimir] Putin underestimated them … They are very united as a people. They are not going to give up, no matter what,” Drueke said.

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by: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter
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