Death of US war journalist sparks speculation among Chinese netizens
Published: Sep 23, 2020 10:21 PM

Photo: Weibo

The recent death of an American journalist in Turkey caught the attention of Chinese netizens on Wednesday, as Andre Vltchek had criticized black-clad rioters in Hong Kong and Western media depictions of the anti-government protests in 2019, saying the coverage by the Western media was adding “fuel to the fire” of the protests.

Vltchek was found dead in a rented car on Tuesday shortly after arriving in Istanbul, capital of Turkey, local media outlet Anadolu Agency reported, citing Turkish security sources. Istanbul prosecutors have launched an investigation into his death.

The DHA news agency said police recorded his case as a “suspicious death,” according to AP. 

This incident caught the attention of many Chinese netizens on Wednesday, as Vltchek was among the Western journalists who told the truth about the Chinese city. He wrote a letter to the young people of Hong Kong in January, who were believed to have no idea about what they fought for when they were waving UK and US flags. 

“R.I.P. our true foreign friend,” a Chinese netizen said on China’s Twitter-like Weibo. Some other netizens also speculated about whether Vltchek was assassinated for telling the truth and whether “someone might want to shut him up.”

The 57-year-old journalist called himself “a revolutionary and internationalist… who fights against Western imperialism and the Western regime imposed on the world,” according to his personal website. 

He also covered dozens of war zones and conflicts from Iraq and Peru to Sri Lanka, Bosnia, Rwanda, Syria, and Timor Leste, the website showed. 

Angelo Giuliano, a friend of Vltcheck who lives in Hong Kong and is active in political issues, has been updating information on the incident on Twitter. 

“He was the best war journalist. He has made a great contribution to exposing injustice around the world and cruel American hegemony... You are my hero,” Giuliano wrote on Tuesday night.

Giuliano and Vltcheck were both in a chat group on Syria issues consisting of journalists and activists.

Giuliano said Vltcheck was considered a “guru” journalist against imperialism and injustice. He was also “careful” and “a bit obsessed about security.”

“He is the type of person to be tracked, as he had many enemies,” Giuliano told the Global Times on Wednesday, adding that the group is looking into his death and implying that there has been speculation that it might have been murder.

According to Giuliano, Vltcheck had been under great pressure after being cheated by an NGO. Vltcheck complained on Twitter in late august that a Dutch NGO asked him to go to Aruba to expose NATO’s threats against Venezuela, but then left him “without the promised financial backing.”

Giuliano’s tweet was also reposted on Sina Weibo on Tuesday night, with many Chinese netizens expressing sadness.

“Sad. Evil beats justice once again,” said a Weibo user.

“A journalist with a conscience. Telling the truth frightened some people. But murder cannot stifle the voice of truth,” said another.