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Ali was taken into a room. "Their boss is sitting there, sprawled out," he continued. "He says, 'You take it up the ass.' I start denying everything." The boss asked Ali about another man, whom Ali knew to be gay. That morning, the man had called Ali and suggested that they meet. "I knew that if they tortured him he'd break and give everyone up," Ali told me. He said to the police that he knew the man only as a business client. "They started beating me. I kept saying that I don't know anything, I've never even heard that there were gays here in Chechnya."

The men took him down to a basement, where there was a large central room, with cells and small chambers around the perimeter. In one chamber, officers dunked prisoners' heads in a vat of ice water; in another, they attached clothespin-like clips wired to a large battery to earlobes or extremities. The cells held men and women, who screamed as they were beaten with fists and batons.

The jailers tortured Ali and then brought him back upstairs to face the boss, then back to the basement for more torture, then back up. Each time Ali was interrogated, the boss demanded that he admit that he was homosexual and give him the names of other gay men. Each time, Ali denied everything. He knew that his phone would yield no information.