EDINBURGH (Sputnik), Mark Hirst – It is clear that ISIL captors who are currently holding hostage British photojournalist John Cantlie have attended media courses run in the West, Vaughan Smith, award-winning war-correspondent and Chairman of the Frontline Freelance Register told Sputnik on Tuesday.
"Clearly some of [Cantlie's] captors have been on media courses in the West," Smith said, adding that terrorism is "all about PSYOPS as they call psychological warfare in the military."
Smith was commenting after Islamic State released another propaganda video featuring 43-year-old Cantlie, the latest in a series to have featured the British journalist. Cantlie appears in the video, purportedly in the Syrian city of Aleppo, presenting a piece to camera in a Western news style.
"I think it was revolting that Fox put up the snuff video of the burning of al-Kasasbeh [Kasaesbeh]," Smith told Sputnik.
"I think differently about Cantlie because putting those videos up might save his life. I believe people realize that they are made under duress and I actually think that [the videos] backfire as propaganda."
Smith went on to accuse Western governments of not doing enough to enhance journalists" safety and added that the news industry as a whole needed to do more to protect freelance journalists working in conflict zones.
"I think that governments and diplomats around the world need to elevate the importance that they attach to journalists" safety. On the whole I don't think that they care for them very much and this undermines any declared commitment to democracy and human rights," Smith said.
Smith told Sputnik that the news industry ought to recognize the need for a common safety course that would better equip freelance journalists working in war zones.
"As Chair of the Frontline Freelance Register, the conflict freelancers representative body, we are currently working to persuade the news industry to recognize a common safety course syllabus so that freelancers can achieve safety qualifications. This should already exist but doesn't," Smith told the news agency.
Michelle Stanistreet, General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) also urged the international community to do more to "expose" governments who fail to fully investigate and prosecute those who exploit and murder journalists.
"We have called on the international community to expose the shameful failure of governments to properly investigate and prosecute the killers of journalists and bring the perpetrators to justice. It is a simple fact that freedom of the press and free expression are not possible where journalists face extreme violence – and worse – for doing their job," Stanistreet told Sputnik.
Stanistreet added that the ISIS assassination videos are appalling and that "elsewhere, the conflict zones around the world have produced a dangerous and lethal climate for foreign correspondents and journalists in the field reporting on bloody conflicts and for the local journalists recording events in such dangerous territory."
Figures produced by UNESCO show that every week two journalists are killed while doing their job. In 2014, 118 journalists were killed during the course of reporting while more than 1,000 have perished over the past decade.
"The NUJ and journalist unions will not accept the targeting of journalists and the threats of intimidation and violence that are commonplace in some parts of the world," Stanistreet told Sputnik.
John Cantlie was abducted in November 2012 along with US journalist James Foley. Foley was subsequently beheaded by ISIL in August 2014.