Farzad Bazoft - a pawn on "the grand chessboard"
in Sunday's UK Guardian
newspaper tells the story of Observer
reporter Farzad Bazoft, an Iranian who was hanged in Iraq as a spy 20 years ago by Saddam Hussein.
In penning the article, the author Donald Trelford, who was editor of the Observer
when Bazoft was arrested, seeks to "remember a friend and colleague whose death served as a warning to the world about Saddam Hussein".
The official story goes like this:
In September 1989, Bazoft went to Iraq to cover elections in Kurdistan. On the day his press party arrived in Baghdad, a massive explosion occurred at a military complex in the city.
Farzad met the deputy foreign minister, Nizam Hamdoun, and asked to visit the site. He enlisted the help of Daphne Parish, a British nurse he had met on a previous visit. They went on successive days to take photographs and collect soil samples, though they always stayed on public roads.
While waiting for an Iraq Airways flight to London on the 15 September, he was picked up at Baghdad airport and taken for interrogation by Saddam Hussein's Mukhabarat secret police.
On November 1st, the Iraqis issued a tape showing him "confessing" to being a spy for Israel. Earlier the Iraqis had claimed he was spying for Britain. On March 15th 1990 he was hanged.
As a veteran journalist, it is appalling that Trelford is content to limit his analysis of the case of Bazoft to the official story. With the US and Israel winding up the world's press to prepare the public for the first Gulf "war", there was good reason to be suspicious of any reports that demonized Saddam in the 1989-1990 period. With everything we know now about how willing Western politicians are to fabricate rationale for war, it is nothing short of yellow journalism
to hold fast to the official story. Worse still is the fact that a much more plausible account of the case of Farzad Bazoft, from a truly reliable source - ex-Mossad agent Victor Ostrovsky - has been available to Trelford for 15 years.