What is the truth about the brutal end of the silent British hero James Le Mesurier?
Barely three days after the Kremlin publicly accused him of being an MI6 spy, James Le Mesurier (photo), a boisterous 48-year-old father of two, was found dead in a street in the center of Istanbul
So did he fall, or was he pushed? The death of James Le Mesurier, a former army officer who was the target of a Russian smear campaign, could not have been better timed to initiate conspiracy theories.
Barely three days after the Kremlin publicly accused him of being an MI6 spy, the boisterous 48-year-old father of two was found dead in a street in the center of Istanbul.
He had apparently tumbled up out of a window in the middle of the night and was wearing a white shirt, gray trousers and a wrist watch when his body was noticed by worshipers on his way to a mosque in the Beyoglu district on Monday around 5:30 am.
The scene was next to the five-story ivy-clad building where Le Mesurier, who helped set up the White Helmets group of volunteer rescue workers in war-torn Syria, had an apartment and office. A post-mortem examination showed that, according to local reports, he had sustained a fractured skull and legs, while his face appeared to be carved with a sharp object. The Turkish police immediately began to inform reporters that it was a suspected suicide.
These are the bare facts about the death of the man who founded the Mayday Rescue group who helped train the White Helmets. But behind them are countless unanswered questions, not to mention the growing feeling that something about this terrible tragedy is simply wrong.
Although many details of the last hours of Le Mesurier have not been confirmed, it appears that they were spent at the Mayday office with his wife Emma Winberg, a co-director of the organization.
According to local news reports, Miss Winberg told police that Le Mesurier had used medication because he was under & # 39; intense stress & # 39; stood as a result of the attacks he and his organization had undergone.
Mr. Le Mesurier had apparently tumbled up out of a window in the middle of the night and was wearing a white shirt, gray trousers and a wrist watch when his body was seen by worshipers on the way to a mosque in the Beyoglu district around 5:30 am on Monday ( the scene where his body was found)
Allegedly she told detectives that she and James went to bed around 4 o'clock on Monday because they had both taken sleeping pills. She was awakened by knocking on the door and discovered that her husband was lying on the street surrounded by the police.
The building is said to be well protected and only accessible through a fingerprint identification system.
Images from a security camera above the front door showed nothing suspicious and no sign of forced entry, so the police concluded that it was suicide.
In 2014, property developer Scott Young (right), who was allegedly guilty of shadowy Russian mafia characters, died after falling four floors from his London penthouse and impaled on iron railings
Some are not so sure and point out that – among other things – on the first and second floor overlooking the place of death the windows are heavily blocked and impossible to leave.
The windows on the third floor are too small. Only on the fourth floor is there a possible exit route: a row of three windows with a view of a shallow sloping roof of about 6 m wide.
Among those speculating about Russian involvement, there are echoes of other sudden deaths involving journalists, lawyers, and counselors who crossed the Kremlin and eventually fell or were thrown out of high windows.
Maksim Borodin, a Russian journalist who had exposed state corruption and exposed the work of Russian mercenaries in Syria, died last year after allegedly falling from his balcony in the city of Yekaterinburg. Twelve months earlier, Nikolai Gorokhov, a lawyer for the family of Sergei Magnitsky – who died in prison in 2009 after uncovering massive tax fraud by government officials – fell out of a fourth floor window. The authorities claimed, apparently with a straight face, that he was trying to move a bathtub.
These are the bare facts about the death of the man who founded the Mayday Rescue group who trained the white helmets (photo). But behind them are countless unanswered questions
In 2007, Ivan Safronov, who was investigating the sale of Russian weapons to Iran and Syria, crashed from a fifth-floor window (it was decided to commit suicide) and two years later, Olga Kotovskaya, a broadcaster with the government, fell. confused, from a 14th floor window in another incident a suicide reigned.
At least one Briton has met a similar fate. In 2014, property developer Scott Young, who was allegedly guilty of shadowy Russian mafia characters, died after falling four floors from his London penthouse and impaled on iron railings.
It is perhaps no wonder that Le Mesurier's friends and colleagues smell a rat when it comes to human rights.
Amnesty International yesterday called for a & # 39; exhaustive & # 39; police investigation into the death of Le Mesurier and said: Gezien Given the long history of smears and charges against Le Mesurier and the White Helmets, the possibility of cheating should certainly be part of the investigation by the Turkish authorities in his death. & # 39;
It may seem strange to hear that a body with such noble targets as the White Helmets should have been the subject of so many slander attacks. To understand why, it is necessary to turn the clock back five years, to Le Mesurier's decision to found a non-profit Mayday Rescue to train and equip volunteers working to save civilians involved in the bloody civil war of Syria.
According to local news reports, Le Mesurier & # 39; s wife Emma Winberg (photo) told police that Le Mesurier had used medication because he was under & # 39; intense stress & # 39; stood as a result of the attacks he and his organization had undergone
At the time, almost no international aid organizations were able to access the most affected areas to provide medical assistance or support rescue efforts.
Deeply moved by reports of their fate, Le Mesurier, who had worked as a private security contractor since leaving the army in 2000, worked with Turkish earthquake volunteers to become about 20 Syrians – including a banker, a baker, several students and a tailor – in a fully trained rescue team. The group returned to their homeland and started saving lives. Although formally called Syrian civil defense, they became universally known as the White Helmets because of their protective headgear.
More than 2,900 male and female volunteers have been trained and equipped by Mayday, which is funded by the UN and has a number of foreign governments and offices in Turkey and Amsterdam. Their work, at the forefront of perhaps the most cruel recent conflict, has led to 252 white helmets and around 500 wounded. They claim to have saved more than 100,000 lives.
This work has received much praise in the West. A Netflix documentary about the rescue workers, The White Helmets, won an Oscar in 2017, while in 2016 the organization was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
But although Le Mesurier volunteers have saved lives on both sides of the Syrian civil war, their work in rebel-occupied territories has generated strong criticism from President Assad and his supporters, including Russia. They have long accused the White Helmets of supporting terrorist groups and, to quote some trolls about Le Mesurier's death on Twitter yesterday, as a & # 39; fake humanitarian group & # 39; of & # 39; pro-jihadi twits & # 39 ;.
The organization has been accused of organizing air and artillery attacks for the cameras and fake chemical attacks. After the Oscar victory, the Russian embassy in the UK tweeted: & # 39; They are actors who serve an agenda, not saviors. & # 39;
Nikolai Gorokhov (photo), lawyer for the family of Sergei Magnitsky – who died in prison in 2009 after uncovering massive tax fraud by government officials – fell out of a fourth floor window
In this image from file video, in which James Le Mesurier, founder and director of Mayday Rescue is shown, talks to the media during training exercises in southern Turkey, March 19, 2015. Officially known as Syria Civil Defense, the White Helmets are a voluntary search – and rescue group formed to respond to bombing by Syrian government forces
Police officers and members of the public outside Mr Le Mesurier's house on Monday morning
Olga Kotovskaya (photo), a broadcaster confused with the government, fell out of a window on the 14th floor in another incident that ruled a suicide
As the public face of the White Helmets, Le Mesurier is therefore at the center of virulent criticism. On Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry claimed that the White Helmets & # 39; the most dangerous terrorist groups & # 39; and claimed that Le Mesurier was a & # 39; former agent of MI6 in Great Britain, seen around the world & # 39 ;.
He was dead within three days.
Miss Winberg, who is a 39-year-old Swedish citizen according to Turkish news reports, told officers Monday that her husband, 15 days before his death, had trusted that he had experienced suicidal thoughts.
In addition to suffering deeply troubling personal attacks from Russia and online, Le Mesurier would be worried about the financial situation of Mayday, fearing that the non-profit group would no longer have money to support the families of white helmets who had been killed or seriously injured in action.
A friend, Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, who served alongside him in the army and advising NGOs in Syria, said yesterday that concerns about his personal safety also caused stress. He told the Mail that when they spoke last month, Le Mesurier said the White Helmets wanted to move their headquarters from Istanbul.
Maksim Borodin (photo), a Russian journalist who had exposed corruption by the state and exposed the work of Russian mercenaries in Syria, died last year after allegedly falling from his balcony in the city of Yekaterinburg.
& # 39; It was generally about security issues, especially when it came to communication & # 39 ;, he said.
& # 39; James thought some of the normal communication, such as Whatsapp and Twitter, was compromised.
In 2007, Ivan Safronov (photo), who investigated the sale of Russian weapons to Iran and Syria, popped out of a fifth-floor window
& # 39; He didn't think they were leak proof. They were very aware of this and regularly switched modus operandi for communication. & # 39;
Le Mesurier has left behind many grieving friends, some of whom have been putting flowers on stage since Monday.
General Sir Nick Carter, who spoke on Radio 4 & # 39; s program yesterday, said: & # 39; (James) was one of my most important staff officers when I was commander of a Green Coats battalion in Bosnia and Kosovo.
& # 39; He was a very generous person and someone who always saw the very best in people. The glass was always half full in his can. & # 39;
Last night, Mr. De Bretton Gordon spoke to many when he said about Le Mesurier's death: "There are too many people who have problems with the Russians falling from the balcony to not be fully investigated."
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