Twenty years ago this week, Steve Pratt walked out of a jail in Serbia and breathed the free air.
He got in a car driven by the Australian ambassador to be chauffeured to the border.
He still remembers the bliss as he sank into the back seat. "I remember the sunshine - the beautiful sunshine - especially the sunshine. And the rolling green fields.
"We hadn't seen sunshine for months. It was quite cool and just to be soaking up sun. Away we went."
Not only had he seen barely a ray of sun for 154 days but he had been hooded and subjected to fake executions when his captors were trying to break him soon after his arrest.
Mr Pratt had been an aid worker in the region as the old communist Yugoslavia exploded apart with the different ethnic groups fighting each other.
Earlier in 1999, Nato had started bombing Serbian troops after they and police had committed atrocities, including the mass slaughter of unarmed civilians.
At the time, the Canberran was running the humanitarian effort for CARE Australia, part of the global humanitarian agency.
He said he had stayed longer than most to keep helping refugees as the war worsened but then decided that he and his colleagues were in too much danger.
Mr Pratt and his colleague, Peter Wallace, headed out but at the Croatian border they were arrested. "The local border authorities started getting pretty bloody cranky," Mr Pratt said. A third colleague, Branko Jelen, was arrested later.
They were taken from police station to police station with some heavy interrogations. They were separated. Mr Pratt said he was handcuffed to a chair and to a radiator while interrogators behind him bombarded him with questions.
"Are you a spy?" kept coming at him for a day and a half, day and night.
"Then, a lot more tougher guys turned up. I lost track of time. Lights on, lights off - that kind of thing.
"I got a bit of rough stuff - a whack around the head."
He said the interrogators were careful not to break teeth or bones but he remembers being trussed up and being beaten with a policeman's club - "That sort of rubbish."
Then he was hooded and taken outside. "I could feel I was being walked through forest. There was cocking of weapons. I was given a good beating. Then they ripped the bag off - all of them laughing."
He suffered three mock executions in the first week.
Pictures of his family were dangled in front of him. His Serbian colleague who was arrested later in a round-up of CARE Australia staff was beaten severely. "This was very, very saddening," Mr Pratt said.
And in this terrified state he confessed to spying.
"They broke me after about four days, when I agreed to cooperate."
He was tried and convicted by a military court and paraded on Serbian television, making what he later said was a forced and false confession in which he said: "When I came to Yugoslavia I performed some intelligence tasks in this country using the cover of CARE Australia."
"I realise that damage was done to this country by these actions, for which I am greatly sorry. I always did and I still do condemn the bombing of this country."
I could feel I was being walked through forest. There was cocking of weapons. I was given a good beating. Then they ripped the bag off - all of them laughing.Steve Pratt on his mock execution
The court sentenced Mr Pratt to 12 years in jail, Mr Wallace to four years and Mr Jelen to six years. Mr Jelen later took Australian citizenship and is believed to live in Canberra.
He was fortified at the time because his pregnant wife risked her life to get into Serbia - during the bombings - to see him during the trial.
A truly international effort also started to get them freed.
Nelson Mandela was involved as well as the American politician, Jesse Jackson, and Mary Robinson, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Australian government was active along with the former prime minister Malcolm Fraser who was very involved in CARE Australia.
Mr Pratt says very firmly today that he was not a spy.
He did have a military background because he had served in the Australian Army before working with refugees for the civilian CARE agency.
And he says that he did draw on his military skills to assess the situation in Serbia but only to make sure that he and other aid organisations were safe - knowing where the bombing was helped people avoid it. He was, he says, "situationally aware" and he used his knowledge to save civilian lives.
He thinks the imprisonment was a retaliation for the NATO bombing which had started a week before his arrest.
And then after five months of ordeal, a guard came into his prison cell.
"He just walked in and dropped a cardboard box on the floor, kicked it and said, 'Pick up your things'. You're going home.
"And that was it."
Ambassador Chris Lamb and former Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser were waiting for him.
And so was the Autumnal sunshine.
When he was reunited with Samira, the wife who had visited him, he held his daughter who had been born a week earlier.
Mr Pratt became a member of the ACT Legislative Assembly. He was and is known for not shirking a confrontation.
He does not think he has been damaged by the trauma of prison and mock execution.
"I regret the pain to my colleagues but what happened happened. I don't dwell on it. For the first two years, I had a few anxiety things but I got over it."
He says today that his military background helped him build "a disciplined bubble" around himself. He sometimes imagined he was playing rugby when he was being beaten.
"Any of us in those circumstances will find the inner strength, regardless of background - you just would. You soon realise you are up against the odds and you eventually calm yourself down - because there is no other option, except to go mad."