Anthony Shadid, a respected, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who died last February after suffering a severe asthma attack in Syria, reportedly told his wife that if anything happened to him while he was there reporting, his death would be on the hands of the people at the New York Times.
Shadid was on assignment with his employer when he snuck into Syria from Turkey in order to report on the political unrest happening there. His cousin, Ed Shadid, recently announced Anthony's last words to his wife while speaking at the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee.
"The phone call the night before he left (Turkey, for Syria), there was screaming and slamming on the phone in discussions with editors," Ed Shadid said. "It was at that time that Anthony called his wife and gave his last haunting directive that if 'anything happens to me I want the world to know The New York Times killed me'."
The announcement shocked the members of the committee and are making waves around the nation today as news travels about Shadid's supposed accusations. The legal director for the committee, Abed Ayoub, said that all they can do is honor Shadid's legacy rather than choose sides on the controversial matter.
"We didn't expect what was said to be said. I think everyone was shocked," Ayoub said. "It is still a great loss, and we are going to focus on why we honored him. We're not taking a position on how he died. The facts will work themselves out.."
However, Ayoub also acknowledged that the circumstances surrounding Shadid's death are "interesting" and that American media officials need to take a closer look at the standards currently being used to send journalists into warzones. As for the New York Times, they have issued an official statement on the matter and are denying they played a part in Shadid's death or pressured him to take such a dangerous assignment.
"Anthony's death was a tragedy, and we appreciate the enduring grief that his family feels. With respect, we disagree with Ed Shadid's version of the facts," reads the statement. "The Times does not pressure reporters to go into combat zones. Anthony was an experienced, motivated correspondent. He decided whether, how and when to enter Syria, and was told by his editors, including on the day of the trip, that he should not make the trip if he felt it was not advisable for any reason."