WikiLeaks Director Gavin MacFadyen Dies

WikiLeaks' director Gavin MacFadyen has died, but he was not "found dead" nor did he pass away under "mysterious" circumstances.

Published Oct 24, 2016

On 22 October 2016, WikiLeaks director Gavin MacFadyen succumbed to lung cancer in London:

WikiLeaks director and founder of the Centre for Investigative Journalism, Gavin MacFadyen, has died aged 76.

It is understood the American Journalist died of lung cancer surrounded by loved ones in London.

Colleagues and fellow journalists across the world, including WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, have taken to social media to pay their respects.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (of which MacFadyen was a co-founder) published an obituary of MacFadyen on 23 October 2016:

Gavin MacFadyen, director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism and adviser to the Bureau, has died after a short illness.

An investigative journalist for many decades, Gavin who died on Saturday October 22 [2016] at the age of 76, used his experience in later life to mentor and encourage those entering the profession.

Gavin was a strong believer in investigative journalism and was heavily involved in founding the Bureau in 2009. He was a committed supporter of the organisation and a long-serving member of its Editorial Advisory Committee.

But it was as the founder and director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism, a training and advocacy organisation that he was best known ... At the Bureau, Gavin pulled on his years of experience to offer tireless support and was an important influence in the direction of the organisation.

Rachel Oldroyd, Managing Editor of the Bureau said: “I am deeply saddened by the death of Gavin. He was a generous supporter of the Bureau and his passionate belief in the ability of journalism to change the world was an inspiration to many who worked here ... Gavin constantly challenged us to do the best journalism we could and to seek out the stories that really held those in power to account. His infectious energy and spirit was a true force for good, which will be missed.”

James Lee, Chair of the Bureau’s board said: “It was Gavin that had the idea that sparked the creation of the Bureau. He was a source of inspiration to us all, the likes of which we are unlikely to find again.”

All early reports of MacFadyen's death made mention of lung cancer as the cause. WikiLeaks also tweeted about his passing without suggesting there was anything suspicious about it:

One tweet lamenting MacFadyen's passing was signed "JA," indicating it was sent by Julian Assange and not the WikiLeaks team. The typically straightforward Assange did not hint that his mentor had died mysteriously:

On 24 October 2016, WikiLeaks also tweeted about heightened concern for Assange's safety amid the site's active publishing of leaks of U.S. political material (which may have exacerbated rumors conflating Assange and MacFadyen):

At the time MacFadyen died, WikiLeaks' current activity and concern about the safety of Assange led to a number of conspiracy-based rumors about MacFadyen's passing:

The common clickbait technique of inserting the word "found" before "dead" in announcing a notable person's death deliberately left many readers with the impression that Gavin MacFadyen had been killed over his work with WikiLeaks. But the earliest news reports and expressions of grief from colleagues and family members (including Assange) indicated that MacFadyen's cancer-related death in a hospital was simply a tragic loss due to a not uncommon disease rather than a mysterious murder.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.

Read More

a Member

Your membership is the foundation of our sustainability and resilience.


Ad-Free Browsing on
Members-Only Newsletter
Cancel Anytime