Viggo Mortensen pays tribute to The Independent’s Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk: ‘He was an extraordinary person’

Roisin O'Connor
·3-min read
L-R: Hollywood actor Viggo Mortensen and late journalist Robert Fisk (Rex)
L-R: Hollywood actor Viggo Mortensen and late journalist Robert Fisk (Rex)

Lord of the Rings star Viggo Mortensen has paid tribute to The Independent’s late Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk.

Fisk died aged 74 on 30 October this year, in Dublin.

Mortensen, who is currently promoting his new film Falling, has since revealed that he endeavoured to “read absolutely everything” written by Fisk, from his news reporting to his books.

Robert Fisk’s death is a big loss not only for your newspaper but for all of us I think,” he told The Independent.

“He was an outstanding journalist and set a great example which I wish more journalists would follow. Integrity and thoroughness, and fairness as a reporter. He was an extraordinary person and journalist. My condolences to your newspaper and your readers.”

Fisk, who was born in Kent, studied at Lancaster University before launching his journalism career on Fleet Street at the Sunday Express.

He went on to work for The Times, where he was based in Northern Ireland, Portugal and the Middle East.

Fisk then joined The Independent in 1989 from The Times and quickly became its most recognisable writer. He continued to write for The Independent until his death.

The recipient of numerous awards, including from Amnesty International and the British Press Awards, Fisk wrote several books, most notably Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War and The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East. He completed a PhD at Trinity college and had a home in Dalkey in Co Dublin.

EPA
EPA

He interviewed Osama Bin Laden three times. After the attacks of 9/11 and the subsequent US and UK invasion of Iraq, Fisk travelled to the Pakistan-Afghan border. There, he was attacked by a group of Afghan refugees who furious about the killing of their countrymen by western forces, an incident that he famously turned into a front-page report, complete with a photo of his battered face.

“I realised – there were all the Afghan men and boys who had attacked me who should never have done so but whose brutality was entirely the product of others, of us — of we who had armed their struggle against the Russians and ignored their pain and laughed at their civil war and then armed and paid them again for the ‘War for Civilisation’ just a few miles away and then bombed their homes and ripped up their families and called them ‘collateral damage’,” he wrote.

Fisk, who took Irish citizenship, was praised by Irish president, Michael D Higgins after news of his death emerged.

“I have learned with great sadness of the death of Robert Fisk,” Higgins wrote in a statement.

“With his passing, the world of journalism and informed commentary on the Middle East has lost one of its finest commentators.

He continued: “Generations, not only of Irish people but all over the world, relied on him for a critical and informed view of what was taking place in the conflict zones of the world and, even more important, the influences that were perhaps the source of the conflict.”

Christian Broughton, managing director of The Independent, said: “Fearless, uncompromising, determined and utterly committed to uncovering the truth and reality at all costs, Robert Fisk was the greatest journalist of his generation. The fire he lit at The Independent will burn on.”

Read Mortensen’s full interview with The Independent here.

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