Minnesota native Tyler Jacob, who was freed late last week after being detained for 10 days by the Russian military in Ukraine, appeared Wednesday on Don Lemon Tonight along with his mother, Tina Hauser. Jacob spoke about his time in captivity, recounting how he was traveling on a bus with others trying to escape the violence when he was detained at a checkpoint for several hours before being moved to a jail the next morning. He was charged with not giving his passport.
Jacob, who was an English teacher in Ukraine, where he has a wife and daughter, was the only one of the group he was traveling with to be detained. He believes he was singled out for a reason..
“The Russians believe in this myth that 007, the legend, his cover story is being an English teacher,” Jacob said. “So they thought that I was, like, the legend.”
Jacob said he went through some pretty heavy interrogation about being a spy, but after going through all his devices, and seeing that he did not have in his contacts list someone they were suspicious of, the Russians realized he was who he said he was.
Jacob said the person questioning him said, “You’re just an English teacher that’s in a bad situation.”
Jacob also spoke about the time he spent in jail. While his mother, who was being interviewed with him, feared the worst, Jacob said he was actually treated really well.
“How did they treat you in custody?” Lemon asked. “So, the first two days weren’t so great,” Jacob said. “But once I got to jail in Simferopol [Crimea], they were absolutely perfect to me.”
Russia has caused countless deaths in Ukraine, including women and children as the military has repeatedly attacked civilian targets. Though Jacob admitted the fault of the Russians in the invasion, he only had words of praise for his captors.
“As much as I’d like to say that Russians are bad people for invading a sovereign country, these people are some of the nicest people I’ve met,” Jacob said. “I mean, there [were] three captains that rotated in the jail, and two of them would speak English with me, and one of them would wink at me when I’d get pulled to go get questioned and he would make sure that I knew that things were going well.”
Don Lemon Tonight airs weeknights at 10 p.m. on CNN.
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