Britain ‘used journalist’s murder for propaganda’

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The British colonial government considered using the murder of a Cypriot journalist as a propaganda tool to win the hearts and minds of rebelling locals, previously secret documents have disclosed.

Odysseus Wideson, a correspondent with the Cyprus Mail, was shot dead in 1956 by rebels who were fighting for enosis – union with Greece.

Britain, which ceded power over the island state in 1960, had been losing the propaganda war with Greece and Eoka rebels for years, with much of the Greek Cypriot population turning against colonial rule.

But so-called “psywar” failed as locals lacked “reason, logic, thought, common-sense and analysis”, according to Foreign Office documents released by the National Archives.

In a letter to Sir Leslie Glass, one of Britain’s key propagandists in the region, an unnamed commissioner of Famagusta, suggested using Mr Wideson’s death to show that Eoka were “dastardly” murderers. The commissioner wrote in May 1956: “Although it is distasteful to use a tragic event such as the assassination of Wideson for propaganda purposes, we feel that it should be put across in a big way that the murderous gang known as Eoka do not hesitate to deny, by dastardly murders, the most elementary of all human rights.”