An American journalist was killed amid the Russian onslaught in Ukraine, the State Department confirmed on Sunday.
Brent Renaud, a Peabody-winning filmmaker, was working in the region on a project on the global refugee crisis for TIME Studios.
Kyiv police said Renaud died after Russian forces opened fire on his car in Irpin, which is just outside the capital of Kyiv. American journalist Juan Arredondo was traveling with Renaud when both were shot, the Associated Press reported. Arredondo was wounded in the lower back.
Renaud, 51, had previously reported on the War in Iraq, meth addiction in the American South and natural disasters. His work, much of which was conducted with his brother, Craig, received widespread acclaim for its raw, honest portrayal of human suffering.
“We are devastated by the loss of Brent Renaud,” said Edward Felsenthal, the editor in chief and CEO of TIME, and Ian Orefice, its COO, in a statement. “Our hearts are with all of Brent’s loved ones. It is essential that journalists are able to safely cover this ongoing invasion and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.”
The Kyiv regional police chief confirmed the news on Facebook.
“Of course, the profession of a journalist is a risk, but US citizen Brent Renaud paid his life for trying to highlight the aggressor’s ingenuity, cruelty and ruthlessness,” Andriy Nebytov said in the post.
Later on Sunday, a State Department spokesperson also confirmed Renaud’s death.
“We offer our sincerest condolences to his family on their loss and are offering all possible consular assistance,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Out of respect for his family’s privacy, we have no specifics to offer at this time.”
Renaud was reported to have been wearing a New York Times press badge — though the Times said on Sunday that Renaud had not worked for the publication since 2015 and was not in Ukraine on assignment for it.
In a statement released on Twitter, Cliff Levy, deputy managing editor at the Times, said: “We are deeply saddened to hear of Brent Renaud’s death. Brent was a talented photographer and filmmaker who had contributed to The New York Times over the years.”
Asked on Sunday morning about the killing, which journalist Clarissa Ward earlier reported, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he had just learned of the report and was unable to confirm at the time. He added that, if an American journalist was killed, that was “a shocking and horrifying event.”
“It is one more example of the brutality of Vladimir Putin and his forces … is they’ve targeted schools and mosques and hospitals and journalists,” he added, “and it is why we’re working so hard to impose severe consequences on him and to try to help the Ukrainians with every form of military assistance we can muster to be able to push back against the onslaught of these Russian forces.”
The mayor of Irpin said on Sunday, following the shooting, that journalists would be denied entry into the city “to save the lives of both them and our defenders,” the AP reported.
The attack on an American filmmaker follows repeated Russian censorship of journalists who speak out about the reality of the invasion and contradict Russia’s false narrative about the war.
Most recently, a law was passed threatening up to 15 years imprisonment for journalists speaking out about the conflict. A number of media outlets, including the Times, yanked their journalists from Russia on fears of that threat.
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