Nate Thayer, a hard-charging freelance reporter who survived a number of brushes with dying over a long time overlaying battle in Southeast Asia and was the final Western journalist to interview Pol Pot, the chief of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, has died at 62.
Thayer was discovered lifeless at his residence in Cape Cod, Mass., on Tuesday by a good friend, mentioned his brother, Rob Thayer.
He had been struggling with a number of illnesses for a number of months, and the reason for dying was listed as pure causes, Rob Thayer mentioned, including that he had final frolicked along with his brother Sunday.
Thayer at varied occasions labored for the Related Press, Jane’s Defence Weekly, the Phnom Penh Put up, the Washington Put up, Agence France-Presse and Soldier of Fortune Journal, but it surely was whereas working as a correspondent for the Hong Kong-based Far Japanese Financial Evaluate that he scored the Pol Pot interview revealed in October 1997. It was the reclusive chief’s first interview in practically 20 years.
By then, the rebellious motion in Cambodia had turned on him.
“After a series of furtive rendezvous, using coded messages over mobile phones, I slipped into one of the most impenetrable, malarial-ridden and landmine-strewn jungles of the world: Khmer Rouge-controlled northern Cambodia,” Thayer wrote.
Pol Pot, “an anguished old man, frail and struggling to maintain his dignity, was watching his life vision crumble in utter, final defeat,” Thayer wrote.
The chief of the Communist Khmer Rouge, below whose regime some 2 million Cambodians died, shocked the world by saying his “conscience is clear.” He blamed piles of human skulls within the nation’s “killing fields” on his nation’s historic enemy Vietnam, and requested for worldwide sympathy for his personal poor well being and private struggling.
Thayer “had spent years developing contacts within the Khmer Rouge, Thai intelligence, and elsewhere to gain this access, and seized an opening when the movement turned in upon itself,” his editor on the Evaluate, Andrew Sherry, wrote in 2005. “By no means a Khmer Rouge apologist, he presented a straight, unvarnished picture of the past and present, and confronted Pol Pot with the evidence that he was a mass murderer.”
Pol Pot died in April 1998, largely considered by world leaders as an agent of evil.
Thayer was additionally concerned in a public feud with ABC’s “Nightline” and Ted Koppel over a Pol Pot story, which ended with Thayer rejecting a prestigious Peabody Award.
Thayer offered the story to ABC understanding it could be a one-week unique with North American tv rights solely. However he mentioned ABC distributed the story worldwide and put images on its web site, scooping Thayer’s personal print account for the Far Japanese Financial Evaluate.
“Ted Koppel and ‘Nightline’ literally stole my work, took credit for it, trivialized it, refused to pay me and then attempted to bully and extort me when I complained,” he wrote in a letter rejecting the Peabody.
ABC mentioned the pre-broadcast publicity is widespread follow for such an unique story and Koppel praised Thayer. The perimeters later settled their variations.
Thayer dug out tales from Asia the place most Western journalists feared to go, and virtually paid along with his life.
In a web-based weblog he maintained, he described a terrifying second in October 1989 when the truck he was using in with a number of Cambodian guerrillas drove over two anti-tank mines. Most of the guerrillas died.
“My eardrums were blown out,” he wrote. “The concussion of the explosion was so great my brain shut down. I remember the liquid in my body became so heated I could feel it simmering near boiling. I could hear my blood boiling, gurgling from what seemed like heat. I felt my brain being tossed around like a rag doll bouncing off the insides of the wall of my boned skull.”
He had shrapnel in his head, torso and legs; a number of damaged bones; and a dislocated kidney.
The two 1/2-ton truck, he wrote, “looked like a shredded child’s toy Tonka truck.”
Later in his profession, he reported from Iraq, the previous Yugoslavia, Cuba, Albania, North Korea and Mongolia.
He had additionally been engaged on a memoir, tentatively titled “Sympathy for the Devil,” on the time of his dying.
Thayer, the scion of a distinguished Boston household and the son of a diplomat, virtually grew up in Asia, as his father was posted in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Beijing and Singapore, Rob Thayer mentioned.
He attended the College of Massachusetts Boston however didn’t graduate.
“He had dreamed of being a journalist and in 1984 he went to the Thai-Cambodia border and began to freelance, and started to make a name for himself,” his brother mentioned.
He spent his final years on Cape Cod, writing towards U.S. far-right activists and white nationalists and sharing tales of his adventures along with his beloved canine, Lamont.
Along with his brother, Nate Thayer is survived by his mom, Joan Leclerc, and his sisters Marian Vito and Meg Thayer. He was single and had no kids.