John Pilger (1939-2023) was an Australian journalist who gained notoriety through his writings and public comments on conflicts and war zones in countries including Venezuela, Ukraine and Syria. The veteran reporter first earned a reputation and garnered awards in the 1960s and 1970s as an independent journalist covering the Vietnam war, Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, and war and famine in Bangladesh . More recently he was a regular guest on Russia's state-run international broadcaster, Russia Today (RT).
Among his many contested claims, Pilger maintained that the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack (April 2017) was not the work of Bashar al-Assad's regime, but of "jihadists" — contrary to all serious investigations on the subject.
Pilger was ideologically close to Seymour Hersh, Robert Fisk, and Vanessa Beeley, the conspiracy theorist to whom Pilger gave his "wholehearted approval in 2018". Pilger and his fellow travelers considered Syria to be the victim of a US-orchestrated international conspiracy to overthrow Assad's regime. "By describing all opposition to Assad as 'Al Qaeda' and painting Assad as the real victim of US aggression they have muddied the waters. Arguments for action against Assad receive less public hearing thanks to the work of their pens," wrote Azeem Ibrahim, a fellow at the Center for Global Policy.
Pilger's critics have also noted that when commenting on the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, he regurgitated the false claims of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, denying the Kremlin's direct involvement and instead claiming a western conspiracy.
On Ukraine, writing in the far-left media outlet Counterpunch in 2015, Pilger relayed recurrent false information that the Obama Administration spent "$5 billion in 2014 to fund a coup against an elected government".
He died aged 84 at the end of December 2023.
(Last updated on 01/01/2024)