In 2006 in the weeks that followed journalist Clare Swinney’s complaints to the Broadcasting Standards Authority about their false claim that Osama bin Laden carried out the attacks of 9/11, her life was threatened and she was involuntarily held in a psychiatric ward. The only reason given for holding her was simply because she asserted 9/11 was an inside job.
A phone call from an ill-informed family member on the 6th June 2006, led to Clare Swinney being picked up by two social workers and taken to Whangarei hospital’s psychiatric facility, Ward 7, where she was misdiagnosed as suicidal, depressed and psychotic. When Clare told them that her life had been threatened because of her work, the staff did not believe her, even though she had a magazine with her that substantiated her claims.
In the days that followed, the chief psychiatrist, Dr Carlos Zubaran refused to look at the evidence she had that supported her claims and he told her she was “delusional” because she said the attacks of 9/11 were perpetrated by the US Administration.
On the ninth day of her incarceration, there was a hearing at Clare’s request, during which it became apparent that the only reason she was being held against her will, was because she knew the attacks of 9/11 were perpetrated by the US Administration. The chief psychiatrist said that this belief was a sign she was delusional and the judge agreed, in spite of Section 4 of the Mental Health Act, which states that one can not be deemed to be mentally ill on the basis of one’s political beliefs. Shockingly, no one at the hearing seemed to know the law, so Dr Zubaran’s told the judge overseeing this farce that she should remain in hospital for 14 days at least for further assessment.
After the hearing, Clare phoned her editor Jon Eisen and asked him to write to the staff explaining the nature of her work and it was likely that she had been threatened as a journalist’s job was dangerous. Eisen wrote a detailed letter and e-mailed it to her. She printed off a number of copies and gave one to the nurses in her ward and the chief psychiatrist. In addition, she also organized a meeting with the Consumer Rights Advocate in order to force Dr Zubaran to look at the evidence that showed 9/11 was an inside job and at the death threats she received.
It was thus, on the 11th day of her incarceration, that Clare, much to her great relief, was told she could go home. Before leaving she handed Dr Zubaran a documentary titled 9/11 Confronting The Evidence, and suggested to him that he might like to apologize after watching it. He replied that he didn’t think he would.
Although Dr Zubaran failed to issue any apology, he did succeed in writing in a letter dated September 11, 2006, “Thanks for offering an alternative look to such a puzzling issue.” The Clinical Director of Mental Health & Addiction Services in Northland, to her credit, did send an apology to Clare in August 2008, which can be viewed here.
Clare said she made many phone calls and wrote many letters to the staff and in the end, she threatened to protest outside the hospital before this apology was issued. She said it was ironic they took so long to apologize because for one thing, they had contravened the Mental Health Act and also, they had been incorrect about their assumption about 9/11 being the work of Osama bin Laden.
In 2006, Clare learnt that Dr Carlos Zubaran had moved to Australia. He never apologized to Clare. “They say psychiatry is to do with mental health, but that was a dreadful experience. I felt as if I had been abused psychologically. They should have apologized straight away, but it took approximately 2 years before one was issued. However, I believe people have learnt from what happened and I am very pleased about that,” she said.