Robert Fisk, veteran Middle East correspondent, dies aged 74
The Independent newspaper confirms its acclaimed and controversial journalist died following a short illness.
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.
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.
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.
In one of his last major field reports, Robert Fisk helped expose the Douma deception, in which defeated extremist militias staged a chlorine attack to trigger US-UK missile strikes.
Fisk’s coverage has been vindicated by several OPCW whistleblowers. https://t.co/lyaGJnZHTY
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) November 1, 2020
Sad to hear about the death of Robert Fisk. His book on Lebanon was an intimate insight into the civil war he lived through.
I visited Fisk in Beirut and was in complete awe of him and what he had witnessed. Fisk had profound influence as a journalist. RIP pic.twitter.com/gfmXGipufm
— Elaine Byrne (@ElaineByrne) November 1, 2020
One of Robert Fisk's great contributions was documenting the massacre of thousands of Palestinians by Israel and its proxies at Sabra and Shatila in 1982. He was among first on the scene. It took courage few journalists show todayhttps://t.co/TipnZsx8wUhttps://t.co/nKBfI640sn
— Ali Abunimah (@AliAbunimah) November 1, 2020
The last 10 years of life were spent as an apologist for Assad, whitewashing massacres in Daraya, Eastern Ghouta, Khan Sheikhoun and Douma. He also slandered doctors and rescue workers and built stories out of prisoner testimonies extracted under duress. https://t.co/Hgd7xfSdnu
— Idrees Ahmad (@im_PULSE) November 1, 2020
Robert Fisk was one of the most highly regarded and controversial British foreign correspondents of the modern era, Irish Times writes. While I did not agree with his coverage of Syria, there is no doubt his legacy covering the region will live on https://t.co/YcSCxoTOtf
— Josie Ensor (@Josiensor) November 1, 2020
Robert Fisk – you great, great hack: who will I sit for hours with in Beirut to grumble about the world! May your ink never dry….. pic.twitter.com/jCasXjX5ki
— Vijay Prashad (@vijayprashad) November 1, 2020
Robert Fisk was a giant in journalism. Whilst others were spoon-fed lies, he challenged the narrative of the powerful. Fearless & unflinching, he was 'controversial' for all the right reasons. His death leaves a huge void in foreign reportage. pic.twitter.com/T3xHsstvbi
— Suzanne Breen (@SuzyJourno) November 1, 2020