Who was Udo Ulfkotte? Meet the Fake Journalist Whose Ghost Writer was the CIA
Italian translation of Bought Journalists prompts summary of his life and work
By Enrico Vigna, of the CIVG*
Finally available in Italian, Thanks to the courage and resolve of the publisher Giuseppe Zambon and the work of rendering and editing by Professor Diego Siragusa, this text by the German journalist Udo Ulfkotte is of fundamental importance for anyone who is fighting for the truth and justice: it reveals the involvement of the intelligence agencies in the German media and in general.
Here is a profile of this courageous and righteous journalist.
Translator note: Compare to our earlier article How to make it to the big time in Western Journalism, whose author forbade me to use his name. He now lives in Russia. In contrast, Udo is dead.
Udo Ulfkotte, born in Ljppstadt, West Germany on January 20, 1960 was a well-known German journalist and author of numerous books. He worked for 25 years as a journalist, 17 of which spent at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). During this time he wrote over 3400 articles for the main German newspaper, covering various roles, including war journalist and foreign policy editor.
He died on 13 January 2017, in “strange” circumstances, as he was found dead in his home and the German government declared it was a heart attack, but his body was hastily cremated, with no autopsy, thus removing forever any possibility of further regular, thorough investigation. [As Ulfkotte speaks of having three heart attacks, his death is perhaps less suspicious than it might seem, but his death did prevent his follow-up book. See below –Tr]
After more than 17 years of his career, the journalist revealed, by direct testimony, how governments and intelligence agencies use and exploit the media for propaganda purposes.
Udo Ulkfotte was publicly ashamed of his involvement in the disclosure and dissemination of false information and stories. He had declared that the situation — in the world of wars, deaths, devastations of entire countries and populations — had become too dangerous, and morally unsustainable for him not to openly reveal the various interests behind each article and the annihilating role that professionals can have over public information, and, therefore, their objective complicity in the most tragic events. In some interviews when he was still alive, he declared: “… I had been writing this book for years … then I felt that the right time had come to finish it and publish it, because I am deeply worried about the Ukrainian crisis and the possible devastating consequences for all of Europe and all of us … I am not at all pro-Russian, but it is clear that many journalists blindly follow and publish whatever the NATO press office provides. And this type of information and reports are completely one-sided …. In my country they fear this book because I have named countless journalists who collaborate with the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the CIA, or have close relationships with other intelligence services. The journalists involved are very likely shocked to see their name printed in a book. But what can they do? I used a huge number of quotes, references, and all the evidence for what I wrote is in my possession.”
In another previously released interview he said that journalists are often approached under the table. They take advantage of “compensation” in the form of gifts, free travel, and “networking” opportunities, that is, to enter into a network of relationships established by the various Agencies, functional to their career and work; covered behind the curtain, that is, taking advantage of predetermined information shifting an event or a complex of facts and circumstances that form the background to an event, and explain it with a predefined perspective.
He spoke of the time when he first realized that he had been used as a mere propaganda tool: “it is daylight clear that the agents of various Services were in the central offices of the Frankfurter Allgemeine, the place where I worked for 17 years. The articles appeared under my name several times, but they were not my intellectual product. I was once approached by someone from German Intelligence and the CIA, who told me that I should write about Gaddafi and report how he was trying to secretly build a chemical weapons factory in Libya.
“I had no information on any of this, but they showed me various documents, I just had to put my name on the article. Do you think this can be called journalism? I don’t think so.
“This is a betrayal of readers who think they can get real information in order to form their opinions, but in reality they are only getting propaganda material. Yes, I know what you are thinking. Because I didn’t refuse.
“ADAC, Germany’s largest automobile club, had an employee working for its helicopter rescue service, who refused to co-operate secretly with the BND. He was immediately expelled from ADAC, he sued and went to court, but the judges decided that a person cannot refuse to work with the BND, and losing your job as a consequence is not a problem, it is only his choice. Do you understand? Do you understand what I’m saying? I didn’t want to become an unemployed.”
When asked by the interviewer why, if journalism is managed so extensively by the intelligence services, why is he the first to tell the truth, Ulfkotte replied: “Any journalist who spoke of this problem would be immediately fired. My home was searched six times, I had three heart attacks but I have no children to think about. I am free, without financial constraints. I want to leave this world with a clear conscience and I no longer want lies to oppress me. I am deeply ashamed of the so-called work done for the Frankfurter Allgemeine.
“I am ashamed of it. The people I worked for knew from the get-go everything I did. And the truth must come out. It’s not just about Frankfurter Allgemeine, this is the whole system that’s corrupt all the way. So far, FAZ has not officially responded to any of the accusations written in my book. They didn’t react and they never contacted me. I informed them before the book was even published and they said they would sue me. They had informed me in writing that they would file a complaint with me at the Tribunal for violating criminal, civil and employment law, as well as corporate standards in journalism.
“Instead then silence. And so none of the names indicated have taken legal steps … the so-called Alpha journalists, those who have close ties to the western political elites and their agencies, and who write only what they are told to write …
“Many others want to put me in prison because I revealed “state secrets”. Maybe it would be worth it for me to fly to Moscow like Edward Snowden and seek asylum there. Let’s wait and see how the leaders of the Banana Republic in Germany react, because they have now been compromised, and everyone can read in my book how the appearance of a free press is generated and that democracy in Germany is only an illusion.” In another interview with a Russian newspaper in 2014, the VZ, he said: “Day after day I continued to watch the Americans on the news, once again preparing for their next war. This time it is in Ukraine against Russia. But it’s always the same game. Not even a complete idiot could have ignored the one-sided US anti-Moscow propaganda after the crash of the Malaysian flight MH17.
“The Americans had also considered blowing up a nuclear power plant in Ukraine and insisting that the culprits were separatists or Russians. I heard it repeated continuously. It is inconceivable!”
This did not happen, but will anyone remember the Malaysian plane shot down in Ukraine, with the Russians and Ukrainian separatists immediately identified as criminals in all Western media?
No evidence has ever been brought, indeed the findings so far lead to Kiev. The logic denounced by Ulfkotte.
To a question about the rewards for writing pro-American articles and how profitable it is to be a pro-American journalist in Germany, he replied: “I had no money, I had gifts. Things like gold watches, diving equipment and travel, holidays in five star hotels. I know many German journalists who at some point were able to take advantage of it to buy holiday homes abroad. But far more important than money and gifts, is the fact that you are offered support if you write pieces that are pro-American or pro-NATO. If you don’t, your career won’t go anywhere, you will find yourself assigned to sit in an office editing letters to the editor.
“When you go to the United States several times, you never have to pay anything, you are invited to interview American politicians, you get closer and closer to the circles of power. And then you want to stay within this circle of the elite, so you write to please them. Everyone wants to be a notorious journalist who has exclusive access to famous politicians. But one wrong phrase and your career as a big-time journalist is over. Everybody knows. And everyone agrees.”
Ulfkotte has also always honored those politicians and minor media journalists, who in Germany are often held up as pro-Russians, just because they have views and proposals for logical negotiating logic and promoting peace: “These so-called “Russian sympathizers” are good people and sincere. I say this, even if I am not politically aligned with them. But I respect their moral integrity. The fact that they are targeted is typical of banana republics like Germany, where any deviation from common opinion is severely repressed. German politicians are US puppets. Honor to those who are not enslaved.”
Before his death, Ulfkotte was working on a folow-up book, of observation and monitoring, with even more specific facts and evidence, on the conjunction between journalists and the intelligence agencies, using a network of friends and trusted relationships, in many countries of the world, with whom he exchanged documents and confidential information. Maybe this is what led to his heart attack and hasty cremation?
- (Center of Initiatives for Truth and Justice, in Italian Centro di Iniziative per la Verita e la Giustizia)