Assad denies being part of plot to kill journalist Colvin

The late Maria Colvin. Picture: Getty
The late Maria Colvin. Picture: Getty
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Syrian President Bashar Assad has denied his forces killed Marie Colvin, saying the veteran correspondent entered his country illegally and is responsible for her own death.

Ms Colvin’s relatives sued the President and his government last week, accusing senior officials of hunting her down and killing her in a rocket attack four years ago.

In the wrongful death complaint, relatives said the attack was premeditated and aimed at silencing journalists.

But the president said his government had nothing to do with the killing.

“No, very simply,” Assad told NBC News in an interview posted on Syria state media yesterday. “The army forces didn’t know that Marie Colvin existed somewhere because before that we hadn’t known about Marie Colvin.”

Assad accused the journalist of entering Syria illegally, saying his government is only responsible for those who enter the country lawfully.

“It’s a war and she came illegally to Syria, she worked with the terrorists and because she came illegally, she’s responsible of everything that befell her,” he said

Ms Colvin, 56, had worked in conflict zones for years and reported for The Times.

Media had set up a makeshift centre in a volatile neighbourhood in Homs, where they reported on the suffering of civilians in the city besieged by the military. In the lawsuit, relatives said the Syrian military tracked and intercepted broadcast signals of Ms Colvin and other journalists to determine their location.

In February 2012, Syrian forces launched a campaign against the site, according to the court documents.

French journalist Remi Ochlik also died in the strike.

The documents alleged the Syrian government got tips from intelligence sources on foreign journalists travelling from Lebanon to Syria.

Throughout the civil war, the Syrian regime has denied targeting civilians, though it has referred to members of the opposition as “terrorists”.

Ms Colvin’s relatives alleged there were “no lawful military targets,” such as armed rebels, in the vicinity of the media center.