Robert Fisk, veteran Middle East correspondent, dies aged 74

The Independent newspaper confirms its acclaimed and controversial journalist died following a short illness.

Robert Fisk
The acclaimed but controversial journalist Robert Fisk has died at the age of 74 [File: Mick Tsikas/EPA]

Veteran journalist Robert Fisk, who for decades covered events in the Middle East and elsewhere as a foreign correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent, has died after suffering a suspected stroke at his Dublin home.

Fisk became unwell on Friday and was admitted to St Vincent’s hospital where he died a short time later, the Irish Times reported on Sunday.

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He was 74.

The Independent paid tribute to a journalist who was “renowned for his courage in questioning official narratives” and publishing “frequently brilliant prose”.

“Fearless, uncompromising, determined and utterly committed to uncovering the truth and reality at all costs, Robert Fisk was the greatest journalist of his generation,” said Christian Boughton, editor of the Independent until last week and now managing director.

“The fire he lit at The Independent will burn on.”

Fisk joined The Independent in 1989, after falling out with the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper The Times, which he had initially joined as Northern Ireland correspondent in 1972.

During his decades-long career, he covered key international events including the Lebanese civil war, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Iranian revolution, Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, conflicts in the Balkans and the Arab Spring.

Robert Fisk
Robert Fisk was renowned for his reporting on Middle East affairs

The Irish Times said he was planning a return to the Middle East shortly before his death.

“The world of journalism and informed commentary on the Middle East had lost one of its finest commentators,” Irish President Michael Higgins said in a statement, paying tribute to a man he said he had known since the 1990s.

Fisk was particularly renowned for his war reporting.

He won the Orwell Prize for Journalism, as well as receiving the British Press Awards International Journalist of the Year and Foreign Reporter of the Year on several occasions.

Fisk was one of the few western reporters to interview al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

But Fisk’s reporting also stirred controversy.

He was accused by critics of siding with the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his reporting on the Syrian war.

His books included The Point of No Return: The Strike Which Broke the British in Ulster; Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War; and The Great War for Civilisation – The Conquest of the Middle East.

Journalists and columnists in the Middle East and around the world paid tribute to Fisk on Twitter, calling him “fearless”, a “giant in journalism” and one of the “few honest Western chroniclers of the war & intrigues imposed on the Middle East”.

Many also, however, took issue with his coverage of the Syrian war.

Source: Al Jazeera