Defected Syrian Journalist Explains How He Fabricated Stories for Pro-Assad Network

The World

Ghatan Sleiba formerly a reporter for Syria's al-Akhbariya TV. ( Photo: BBC Video)

A reporter from one of Syria's largest pro-government TV networks has fled to Turkey where he talked with the BBC's James Reynolds. Reynolds says the Syrian TV journalist – Ghatan Sleiba – admitted the network he worked for in Damascus, al-Akhbariya, regularly fabricates stories. "The ruling Baath Party would issue instructions via a committee which would reach him and his newroom," says Reynolds. "And he said that there was no point in doing a report that didn't match their opinions because that report would not go to air." Reynolds says Sleiba admitted he briefed those he featured in his TV pieces. "He said that when he went along to interviews, he said Syrian people didn't really know what to say. He would tell them what to say. He would tell them to say, 'We love President Bashar al-Assad. We want him to continue ruling,' " Reynolds recalled. "And then they would repeat and say this."