Gwynne Roberts

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Gwynne Roberts is a British journalist.

According to the Western Telegraph:

Gwynne was bought up in the Scarrowscant area of Haverfordwest and attended the old grammar school. He then went to Oxford University before joining Reuters news agency.[1]

Roberts told PBS:

I used to work for Reuters, and I resigned in 1973. I was being trained as a foreign correspondent, and this was the first story I did. So in 1974, I set out for the mountains of Kurdistan where there was a rebellion, a revolt against Baghdad. The revolt, the rebellion, was supported by the Americans. It was supported by the shah of Iran. So that was my first freelance venture, and I was covering it for The Financial Times and The New York Times, and I went back and forth a lot. And then early in March 1975, the whole thing collapsed in ruins, because the CIA -- Henry Kissinger -- had withdrawn support for the Kurds abruptly, as had the shah, and they were left completely destitute.[2]

The Winds of Death

Roberts' 1988 film The Winds of Death uncovered key evidence of Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons against the Kurds.[3]

Gulf War

In a September 1990 article, Roberts suggested that Iraqi chemical weapons were capable of penerating US and UK gas masks.

Professor Lohs first discovered Iraq's offensive interest in chemical weapons in the early 1970s. After lecturing the Iraqi General Army Staff in Baghdad on chemical disarmament, he was asked to advise them on the use of poison gas against Israel. "One general stood up and said: 'That's all very well and good, but you Germans have a lot of experience from gassing the Jews. That would interest us much more. Can't you advise us how to use chemical weapons for that purpose?' "[4]

A month later he suggested Iraq was mining uranium:

Freelance film maker Gwynne Roberts said evidence, including photographs taken by a Soviet spy satellite, indicated Iraq had mines in its northern Gara mountains. For his ITN report screened on Channel 4's The World This Week, Mr Roberts talked to Kurds who claimed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein had regularly visited the site, about 40 miles south of the Turkish border. One unnamed source said: "The exact spot is not known but that it is in northern Iraq is something that has been verified by Iraqi exile sources, Iraqi defectors and intelligence sources all over the world."[5]

In a January 1991 Dispatches documentary, Roberts reported that the East German Stasi had trained the Iraqis in the use of chemical weapons.[6]

In March 1991, Roberts toured Kirkuk with Kurdish forces and interviewed Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani.[7]

Saddam's Killing Fields

In 1992, The Independent reported on the efforts of the Kurdistan Front to document massacres perpetrated by the Iraqi state:

"There's a level of suffering in that region which is overwhelming," says Gwynne Roberts, a British journalist who has for two decades been instrumental in bringing the plight of the Kurds to world attention. "Even I thought the brutality was sporadic. But it wasn't."[8]

In a film called Saddam's Killing Fields, Roberts documented Kanan Makiya's return to Iraq, and which raised questions about the British and American failure to respond to Saddam Hussein's atrocities.[9]

The film won The Edward R. Murrow Award for the best TV interpretation or documentary on foreign affairs in 1993.[10]

Red Mercury

Roberts produced two films for Channel Four's Dispatches, Trail of Red Mercury (1993) and Pocket Neutron (1994) presenting 'startling new evidence that Russian scientists have designed a miniature neutron bomb using a mysterious compound called red mercury.'[11]

"We know of no substance which is of weapons interest that is described as red mercury," said David Kyd of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency.
"The Russians have said this is nonsense. The U.S. Department of Energy has said this is nonsense. And we haven't seen anything in Vienna that would make us think otherwise," he said in a telephone interview.
But Taylor, Cohen and British nuclear physicist Frank Barnaby, who reviewed the program's findings, said the Russians may have made a major advance in nuclear weaponry.
The "Dispatches" program showed pictures of bottles and vials purportedly containing red mercury but it did not obtain any samples which could be independently analyzed. Director Gwynne Roberts said he believes he could have obtained a sample, but it would cost about dlrs 250,000 per kilogram, 2.2 pounds.[12]

The existence of red mercury is still disputed, and the substance has been at the centre of a number of hoaxes, scams and sting operations.[13]

Saddam's Bomb

In a March 2001 documentary, Roberts suggested that Iraq may have conducted a nuclear test in 1989.

"Leone" emerged from out of the shadows outside my hotel in Suleimaniya, northern Iraq, on a bleak, misty night in January 1998 - just as the crisis between the United States and Iraq over arms inspection was reaching fever pitch.
Local Kurdish officials identified him as a nuclear scientist and when we talked, he seemed well informed.
Leone described himself as an engineer who was a member of the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission - and a senior official in the secret Iraqi nuclear programme.[14]

Saddam's Road to Hell

On 5 November 2006, Roberts spoke along with Mohammad Ihsan of the Kurdistan Regional Government at a screening of his film, Saddam's Road to Hell, hosted by Labour Friends of Iraq at Westminster.[15]

The film was later praised by Nick Cohen in The Observer.

Look again at Saddam's Road to Hell or, rather, allow me to look at it again on your behalf. All its facts have been triple-checked. The producers present other points of view. Far from being a celebrity hack, the reporter shrinks into the background and allows Iraqis to speak for themselves. I hope Channel 4 sticks to its word and shows it, and not only to quash the Kurds' suspicions. This is an example of a threatened form of television journalism that we will miss more than we know if we allow it to die.[16]




  1. Haverfordwest director awaits Emmy result, Western Telegraph, 24 September 2007.
  2. Frontline/World: Iraq - Saddams's Road to Hell - A Journey into the Killing Fields, PBS, 24 January 2006.
  3. Chemists prove mustard gas use; Iraq offensive against Kurds, by Hazhir Teimourian, The Times, 28 November 1988.
  4. Crisis in the Gulf: Poison gas may pierce allied masks, by Gwynne Roberts, The Independent, 11 September 1990.
  5. IRAQ 'MAY BE MINING URANIUM', Press Association, 13 October 1990.
  6. Crisis in the Gulf: Saddam terrorists 'trained by Stasi', by Harvey Morris, The Independent, 30 January 1991.
  7. Crisis in the Gulf: Kurds tell of Iraqi torturers' child victims; Baghdad Radio claimed last night that Kirkuk had been recaptured as Saddam Hussein's forces used Scud missiles and fixed-wing aircraft in their fierce counter-offensive. Gwynne Roberts, in Kurdistan filming for Channel 4's Dispatches, toured the oil city with the Kurdish rebels who captured it. by Gwynne Roberts, The Independent, 29 March 1991.
  8. Not Quite Genocide, by [[Tim Kelsey], The Independent, 26 January 1992.
  9. PBS programs reveal stories of horror, courage and faith, by Lon Grahke, Chicago Sun-Times, 31 March 1992.
  11. Roberts and Wykeham Films, accessed 28 April 2008.
  12. Scientists Concerned Russia Has Developed New Mini-Bomb, by Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press, 13 April 1994.
  13. Nuclear Trafficking Hoaxes: A Short History of Scams Involving Red Mercury and Osmium-187, by Kenley Butler and Akaki Dvali, Nuclear Threat Initiative, April 2004.
  14. Saddams's Bomb], Gwynne Roberts, BBC News, 2 March 2001.
  15. Special screening: "The Road To Hell"—Saddam's genocide, by Gary Kent,, 5 November 2006.
  16. British television has a moral duty to show this shocking film, Nick Cohen, The Observer, 2 July 2006.