Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 03/27/2012

Are Syrian citizen journalists embellishing the truth?

This post has been updated.

International assistance for Syria became more likely Tuesday after Syria’s government said it had accepted a United Nations plan to halt the violence and forge a political solution, The Post’s Alice Fordham reports. A report from London-based Channel 4 suggests that Syrian citizen journalists may have embellished the truth to get that international attention.


This image made from amateur video purports to show smoke rising from buildings in Homs, Syria. The Post and other news agencies often publish images like this with the phrase: “We cannot independently verify this image.” (Shaam News Network - AP)

When Channel 4 sent French photojournalist Mani to Syria last month, he came back with footage that documented the crimes against humanity taking place in the central city of Homs. Mani also came back with information that some Syrian citizen journalists were embellishing their footage, Channel 4 revealed today.

Omar Telawi, a Syrian video journalist with no formal training, was responsible for one film from Homs that shows the city with a smoking backdrop. The smoke, he admitted, was a special effect. But Telawi made no apologies to Channel 4, saying that the city was under siege and that the rebels needed to the world to take notice.

Citizen journalism has been vital to the uprising in Syria, a country foreign journalists were at many times not been allowed inside, or were killed while reporting there.

Some journalists say they have been targeted by the government and its supporters. Last November, Telawi survived an assassination attempt, according to Channel 4. In February, Danny Abdul Dayem, dubbed “the voice of Homs” because of the many videos he had shot in the city and posted to YouTube, fled to Lebanon because he feared for his safety.

And while some citizen journalists may have embellished their coverage, the U.S. government has said that the Syrian regime has committed a number of human rights atrocities during the uprising. U.S. envoy to Syria Robert Ford said Tuesday these could amount to “crimes against humanity.”

Below, watch Channel 4’s report on the video journalists.

(Warning: Graphic images may be upsetting to some.)

Update, Wednesday, 3:09 p.m.:

A reader pointed out in an email to BlogPost that Syrian citizen journalist Danny Abdul Dayem has also been accused of distorting the reality in Homs in his videos. CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviewed Dayem earlier this month about whether he was embellishing the truth:

By  |  12:30 PM ET, 03/27/2012

Tags:  World, Syria, citizen journalism, Channel 4

 
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