The British government has given the self-described ‘impartial’ Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) £194,769.60 for a project to help fund “communications equipment and cameras,” according to journalist Peter Hitchens.
The Sunday Mail’s Hitchens, a regular critic of British foreign policy, tweeted on Sunday: “Boris Johnson's Foreign Office admits it gave £194,769.60 to the supposedly 'independent' Syrian Human Rights Observatory. How many other 'independent' bodies in the Syrian controversy aren't as 'independent' as they look?”
Boris Johnson's Foreign Office admits it gave £194,769.60 to the supposedly 'independent' Syrian Human Rights Observatory. How many other 'independent' bodies in the Syrian controversy are'n't as 'independent' as they look?
— Peter Hitchens (@ClarkeMicah) May 13, 2018
The SOHR declare on its website that it’s “not associated or linked to any political body.” Hitchens in his Sunday Mail blog asks: “Is Boris Johnson’s Foreign Office not a political body?” Hitchens appears to question the legitimacy of the relationship, in relation to the Syrian conflict “in which the British government clearly takes sides.”
Fellow Mail journalist and author of ‘Not the Chilcot Report,’ Peter Oborne has added that the “Syrian Observatory has been treated as a gold standard for information on Syria. Quoted by BBC all the time. Always described as independent.”
Syrian Observatory has been treated as a gold standard for information on Syria. Quoted by BBC all the time. Always described as independent. Now we learn from Peter Hitchens it's funded by FCO. https://t.co/NyfFnGT0Jo
— Peter Oborne (@OborneTweets) May 14, 2018
The group has come under criticism, being accused by some as a tool of Western propaganda due to its location and lack of staff. Its operation is managed by one man in Coventry in the UK, Rami Abdurrahman, who fled Syria in 2000. He relies on a handful of Syrians to assist him in collating information from “more than 230 activists on the ground”, a network of people from his youth, reports New York Times.'
Read more: ‘Independent’ Syrian Observatory for Human Rights receives nearly £200,000 from UK Foreign Office