February 29th, 2024

John Pilger, Australia-born journalist and filmmaker known for covering Cambodia, dies at 84

By The Associated Press on December 31, 2023.

FILE - Journalist John Pilger, one of the supporters of the Wikileaks website founder Julian Assange, talks to media outside the City of Westminster Magistrates Court in central London, following Assange bail hearing, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. John Pilger, the Australia-born journalist and documentary maker known for his coverage of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, has died. He was 84. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)

LONDON (AP) – John Pilger, an Australia-born journalist and documentary filmmaker known for his coverage of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, has died, his family said Sunday. He was 84.

A statement from his family, posted on X, formerly Twitter, said Pilger died on Saturday in London.

“His journalism and documentaries were celebrated around the world, but to his family he was simply the most amazing and loved dad, grandad and partner,” the statement said.

Pilger, who has been based in Britain since 1962, worked for Britain’s left-leaning Daily Mirror newspaper, broadcaster ITV’s investigative program “World In Action” and for the Reuters news agency.

He won an International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences award for his 1979 film “Year Zero: The Silent Death Of Cambodia,” which revealed the extent of the Khmer Rouge’s atrocities. He followed that with a 1990 documentary titled “Cambodia: The Betrayal,” which examined international complicity in the Khmer Rouge remaining a threat.

He also won acclaim for a 1974 documentary looking into the campaign for compensation for children after concerns were raised about birth defects when expectant mothers took the drug Thalidomide.

Pilger was known for his opposition to American and British foreign policy, and he was also highly critical of Australia’s treatment of its Indigenous population.

In more recent years, he campaigned for the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has fought a lengthy battle against extradition to the United States.

Kevin Lygo, managing director of media and entertainment at ITV, described Pilger as “a giant of campaigning journalism” who offered viewers a level of analysis and opinion that was rare in mainstream television.

“He had a clear, distinctive editorial voice which he used to great effect throughout his distinguished filmmaking career. His documentaries were engaging, challenging and always very watchable,” Lygo said.

“He eschewed comfortable consensus and instead offered a radical, alternative approach on current affairs and a platform for dissenting voices over 50 years,” he added.

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