Journalist and documentarian John Pilger dies at 84

The documentary maker’s 1979 ITV film Year Zero: The Silent Death Of Cambodia revealed the extent of the Khmer Rouge’s crimes.

Journalist and documentarian John Pilger dies at 84 PA Media

Investigative journalist John Pilger has died aged 84, his family has announced.

The Australia-born documentary maker was known for his work covering the aftermath of Pol Pot’s regime in Cambodia and also looked into the Thalidomide scandal along with his war correspondent work.

A statement to his X, formerly Twitter, page on Sunday said: “It is with great sadness the family of John Pilger announce he died yesterday 30 December 2023 in London aged 84.

“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. Rest In Peace.”

John Pilger speaking outside the Old Bailey before a hearing in Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s battle against extradition to the US (PA).PA Media

Pilger worked for the Daily Mirror, ITV’s former investigative programme World In Action and Reuters.

In 1979, the ITV film Year Zero: The Silent Death Of Cambodia revealed the extent of the Khmer Rouge’s crimes and Pilger won an International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences award for his 1990s follow-up ITV documentary Cambodia: The Betrayal.

Pilger also made the 1974 documentary Thalidomide: The Ninety-Eight We Forgot, about the campaign for compensation for children after concerns were raised about birth defects when expectant mothers took the drug, for ITV.

Kevin Lygo, managing director of media and entertainment at ITV, said: “John was a giant of campaigning journalism.

“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.

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

“John’s films gave viewers analysis and opinion often not seen elsewhere in the television mainstream. It was a contribution that greatly added to the rich plurality of British television.

“Our thoughts and condolences are with John’s family, friends and colleagues at this sad time.”

Pilger also campaigned for the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been embroiled in a lengthy battle against extradition to the US, and put up the cost of his bail.

Former Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters, who has also supported Assange, paid tribute to Pilger.

Waters wrote on X: “John Pilger. I miss you my friend, what a great man you were. We will carry you in our hearts forever, you will always be there to give us strength. Love R.”

During his career, Pilger made a series of remarks criticising American and British foreign policy and the treatment of Indigenous Australians.

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