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Reuters Fires Photographer For Encouraging Terrorism During October 7th Massacre

The Reuters wire service is distancing itself from a freelance photographer after a pro-Israel journalism watchdog organization found an Instagram video of the photographer on October 7 appearing to urge Gazans to cross over into Israel.

The media monitoring group HonestReporting published what it said was a video of the photographer, Mohammed Fayq Abu Mostafa, saying in Arabic, “Advice, whoever can go – go. It is a one-time event that will not happen again.”

Asked about the video, a Reuters spokesperson said, “We consider unacceptable the behavior in the video of Mohammed Fayq Abu Mostafa.” The news organization clarified, “Mohammed Fayq Abu Mostafa is not a Reuters journalist. He is a photographer from whom we occasionally acquired images in October and November 2023 and we have not used his photos since.”

Reuters said it was “committed to delivering unbiased and reliable news.”

On social media and on its own website, HonestReporting has been critical of Reuters. “Does Reuters have no shame?” the group asked in a February 7 post on X, highlighting the agency’s use of an image by Mohammed Fayq Abu Mostafa in a photo gallery marking four months since the war began.

The New York Times published an image credited to Reuters and Mohammed Fayq Abu Mostafa as part of its 2023 “year in pictures” supplement. The image, apparently taken from the Israeli side of the Gaza border, was captioned, “Gazan border, Oct. 7. Palestinians used earth-moving equipment to breach the border fence between Gaza and Israel. Hamas gunmen surged into Israel by land, sea and air in a surprise attack that prompted a full-blown war.”

Media executives have been pushing back hard against any claims that any of their journalists on October 7 were participating in the Hamas attack rather than documenting it.

A New York Times Company senior vice President and deputy general counsel, David McCraw, wrote to the Israeli foreign ministry on November 12 to say that “the accusation that anyone associated with The Times had advance knowledge of the attack or was embedded with Hamas terrorists at any time is simply false.” McCraw’s letter said, “by adopting and perpetuating unsupported accusations of criminal behavior against journalists, you not only endanger them but undermine the journalistic work that the world depends on to understand the realities of the war.”

Reuters also said it was “deeply concerned” about “baseless speculation” and “damaging accusations,” “incendiary insinuations” and “inflammatory claims” with “no evidence” that it said “posed grave risks to journalists in the region, including those working for Reuters.”

“It is the job of journalists to document important news as it unfolds and to provide a first-hand account of events on the ground. This is the essential role of a free press in war zones, and we remain fully committed to providing this coverage both from Israel and Gaza as the conflict continues,” the Reuters statement said.