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When ABC arrived in Damascus, an Assad aide first said that government cameras would be used to record the interview, but Walters rejected this. Two Assad assistants also asked for the right to look at the tape after the interview. ABC refused.

The government also said that reporter Alexander Marquardt, who accompanied Walters, would be given free rein to travel across the country. Marquardt, in an ABC blog, said this did not work out. He went to the city of Daraa, and found most residents unwilling to speak with him because they saw secret police agents nearby. Daraa’s governor refused Marquardt’s request to visit the village of Dael, saying it was unsafe, the reporter wrote.

Walters said that it appeared some of Assad’s aides were interested in seeing the leader get more exposure in the West. The British-trained eye doctor is “not a crazy, wild man like Ghadafi,” Walters said.

“Why he did this now, I can’t say,” she said.