Gonzalo Lira Is Dead

Reader Burritnomics provided the sad news about Gonzalo Lira’s death in comments. It looks to have been first reported by Tucker Carlson:

I am saddened and outraged at this news. It is a disgrace, particularly after Gonzalo reported having been tortured and extorted while in prison, that the State Department did nothing to assist him, when they clearly could have gotten him deported. But that was certain not to happen given his show on Victoria Nuland.

Gonzalo wrote some posts for Naked Capitalism not long after the financial crisis that were very colorful and informative. We parted ways over his submitting a post that took strong views on budget orthodoxy. Update: our code maven Dave just informed me that Gonzalo also created our Wikipedia page. By e-mail:

00:29, 4 April 2010‎ GonzaloLira talk contribs‎ 319 bytes +319‎ ←Created page with ”’Naked Capitalism” is a popular blog run by Yves Smith. It deals mainly with finance-related and economic news and analysis. It has been consistently ra…’

I don’t know how I found his commentary on the war in Ukraine, but I watched it regularly. Lira had produced documentaries and analyzed some videos presented as battlefront scenes that he demonstrated were staged. In particular, he called out James Vasquez as a fraud who produced bogus videos to extract money from people who wanted to support Ukraine:

The New York Times reported that Vasquez was a con artist months later, without crediting Gonzalo. Business Insider re-reported the New York Times story and added new detail in The making of a fake war hero: An American who reinvented himself as a social-media soldier in Ukraine is accused of ‘stolen valor‘.

This was from our August 1 post. Gonzalo had been detained once by the Ukraine authorities for about ten days, has all of his social media accounts taken from him, and was released with (after much pleading) one very old laptop but also his identity papers. He was told not to leave the country but allegedly did not get the message that being given his documents meant he was being given the opportunity to fly the coop.

Instead he stayed and resumed broadcasting. I participated in a few of his Roundtables during this period, which I very much enjoyed. We last spoke for what was supposed to be 15 minutes and turned out to over 2 hours, in IIRC spring 2023, when I was bummmed and stressed out the state of the warld and getting my mother’s house emptied, sold, and moving overseas and he was depressed about being under something close to house arrest and not knowing what would happen when the war got to him in Kharkiv.

But Gonzalo and was unable to restrain himself from giving pointed commentary about Urkraine, resulting in a second arrest and much harsher treatment. From an August 1 post, after his second arrest:

Gonzalo Lira is alive, as the videos embedded below and a fresh 25-entry tweetstorm attest. However, he has a very ugly story to report. He was detained and repeatedly tortured by prisoners at the behest of guards, so as to create official deniability.

He was allowed to go free by virtue of paying $70,000 in bribes (after having $9,000 of “emergency cash” stolen) plus $11,000 in bail to be set loose before an August 2 trial date, where he was told his conviction was a certainty, despite the prosecution effectively admitting in its own filings that Gonzalo’s only crime was running afoul of Ukraine’s extreme restrictions on free speech. The anticipated sentence was 5 to 8 years in a labor camp. Gonzalo was not given access to an attorney despite claims otherwise.

And predictably, the State Department was no help, due not just to Gonzalo’s critical reporting on the US role in the conflict and outing some Western propaganda, but no doubt more specifically to his video on Russia-hater-in-chief Victoria Nuland, who was just promoted to number two at State. Representatives of the US Embassy did visit him three times, but offered, as Gonzalo put it, only bromides. But apparently there was enough noise made, particularly by the Chilean government, about Gonzalo not being allowed to post bail, so State apparently did eventually clear its throat about that.

Gonzalo tried to make a run for the Hungarian border and posted a video before his attempted crossing, which failed. I am at a loss as to why he did that ahead of time, putting the officials on notice, as opposed to arranging for it to appear at a time certain, when he would either have been arrested or be in Hungary. Perhaps he had reason to think that setting up a delayed release could still be detected by the SBU, so he might as well go public. And he wanted to leave a record in case this was his only chance to give a message to his family. This is the last in a series of three videos he released then. It’s is a bit verbose but you can understand why:.

I feel I should say more but am at a loss as to how best commemorate Gonzalo. He was irreverent, funny, often acidly insightful, a little too fond of wild speculation for the hell of being provocative. He could also be undisciplined, such as his unnecessarily vitriolic attack on Scott Ritter (his critique would have been more effective with less venom) and being insistent on his retrograde views of male-female relations. That defiance of norms was part of his charm but also a sign of perhaps too much appetite for risk.

Gonzalo said more than once the measure of a life was the distance between the highs and the lows. Tragically, he was killed on a low. It seems pretty obvious this is not a bona fide death from natural causes, as Ukraine is alleging. He had pneumonia, which is highly treatable if dealt with early, and the Ukrainians did not. So they can pretend they had nothing to do with his early death when the reverse is true. As Lambert put it, “He died in prison, as was the intent.”

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    1. LawnDart

      I suppose that it can be rather helpful that the nazi-lovers identify themselves, at least as a reminder of the evil amongst us…

      When you visit businesses that fly the Ukie flag, I think it best to maintain your dignity, sense of decorum, and to make an effort to establish cordial relations (being as such that friendly ones are impossible). Upon entering such an establishment, one should face the flag, shout “SEIG HEIL!” three times while making the appropriate salute, and then go about your business.

      Perhaps you also could leave a Google or Yelp review to let people know that the business loves nazis and that they should ask for or simply take the “Ze-discount.”

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        > they should ask for or simply take the “Ze-discount.”

        Ha! This reminds me of some anecdata I’ve wanted to share from my local Chicago mezzurbs. I have noticed a lot of the blue+yellow paraphernalia has come down now – permanently it seems. The fixture I saw most was on a restaurant directly opposite my daily coffee fix. It had been, since the very beginning adorned with not just the flags but a sizable placard that said “Pray for Ukraine”. Now, to be fair, “pray for Ukraine” isn’t as bad as “Slava Ukraini!” … I mean, I pray that Ukraine will be free of Zelenksy and horrid US/UK/NATO warmongers one day! But I wondered what led to the takedown. Was it a sense of exhaustion?! Was it a sense of futility? I wondered if there was a change of heart by the ownership, perhaps … maybe they came to NC one day, and realized supporting the US perspective was not the right position to be taking. Or maybe they came to that familiar grumble that is steadily uniting disparate US tribes: the realization that the same government that can’t provide free COVID tests, free vaccines or free internet for seniors somehow has a lot of family-blog money for Ukraine.

        “Pray For The US” is gonna be the next hot sign in the windows.

    1. digi_owl

      Just wonder how long Assange will last in a US prison before “hanging himself” while on suicide watch…

      1. JonnyJames

        It is a real shame that the MassMedia outlets that published Wikileaks and Assange’s information, threw him under the bus and most have forgotten about him. Now that John Pilger is dead, only a few like Craig Murray will not forget him.

        The fact that he has been in HMP Belmarsh for several years, on fabricated charges is another example of the mockery of the law. The UK show trials and likely extradition of Assange to a US gulag sends a chilling message to journalists and whistleblowers everywhere. Meanwhile, Bush Jr. and Tony Blair become more and more wealthy.

        Just in case anyone hasn’t seen this, here it is, highly disturbing, It requires a strong stomach to watch. No wonder the Trump and Biden regimes want him dead.


        1. digi_owl

          MSM disowned him when he made their saint HRC look bad just on the cusp of her ascendance to presidency…

          1. JonnyJames

            Yes, she wants him dead too. Another great example of Bipartisan Consensus. The Obama/Clinton/Trump/Biden regimes all want him dead.

  1. zagonostra

    RIP Gonzo and condolences to his father and other family and friends.

    I watched many episodes with you as a guest on The Duran, or on your own podcast, and on many other platforms. I always enjoyed listening to your passionate take on issues, smoking on camera, and good nature.

    The current Regime is nothing less than evil and along with the +100 journalist in Gaza murdered, they have your blood on their hands as well.

    1. Ignacio

      Same feelings here. Condolences to his father. A good reminder for us not to forget what kind of regime are we supporting in Ukraine, willingly or not.

  2. leaf

    The lack of action of the US government on their part to get Gonzalo out of the Ukraine was about as expected after reading Ray McGovern’s account about how some people in the State Department would have been happy about the Israelis shooting their ship during their attempt to sail to Gaza back then.

    I’m still not sure what to make of Scott Ritter’s assertion that Gonzalo Lira was an SBU agent. Given that this has happened, I guess it probably did not have much merit.

    1. Rubicon

      Gonzalo Lira was head and shoulders above Ritter’s spiteful nature. Lira was a well educated university graduate. He studied philosophy and history. And he seemed to have a wide understanding of finance.

      We didn’t expect the US govt. to do anything for Gonzalo, but Elon Musk,or Tucker Carlson could have at least attempted to free Gonzalo. If he had been a child of either of those two men, they would have moved Heaven & Earth to free their child from Ukraine. .

      1. arihalli

        I don’t see why their disagreement should negate both of their accomplishments. Ritter, as well, has been an indifatigable educator of the lies of the American state. And he has given excellent analysis

      2. EricPeters

        We have passed a ‘Rubicon’. Vietnam would not dare of killed a dissident American a half a century ago. The Truth is the Ukrainians like the Turks learned from the Israelis how to jack-&-play the American political system. I read Brit papers who insult Lira-(Lopez(his Spanish name))’s memory. An opinion is not a ‘propagandist’ ,which is a professional. I thought Gonzalo was an over aged adolescent who gave marginal to disastrous advice (yes, after Biden’s coronation he told Americans to leave the USA. (How did that workout-for-him?)). He never deserved medical neglect. He should of never tried to exit Ukraine through customs. We have fools in the US State Department who allowed the scraping of the Minsk 2 ceasefire agreements. Ukraine started this damn war by firing munitions from their newly bought Turkish drones over-the-line-on-conflict. Let’s Go Brandon.

    2. Yaiyen

      He didn’t say he is SBU agent, he said he is controlled by SBU after his first arrest ,that is different than being SBU agent.

  3. Mikel

    “He was told not to leave the country but allegedly did not get the message that being given his documents meant he was being given the opportunity to fly the coop…”

    Maybe thought that was a trap to kill him under the justification of trying to escape?

  4. AG

    …naturally this was intended as a signal post nobody could ignore who would plan on going there to report…
    I am too struck, despite not knowing his work well enough.
    But the brutality and senselessness of this murder will only be topped by Western governments and MEDIA ignoring it completely. I already loathe those new Twitter comments about Navalny in prison that will pop up by priviledged members of Eastern European diplomatic corps…
    This all is disgusting.

    1. Eric Peters

      Do people realize that even North Korea released brain injured Otto Warmbier? Every second reader should briefly research pneumonia. Wars from the past century have killed more through disease that actual bullet, artillery, or bludgoning. Netflix included a Ukrainian prison in its prisons-of-the-world series. I don’t believe Gonzalez Lira-Lopez was tortured by authorities. He was exploited by opportunist gangster prisoners who extorted him & achieved their aims by torture. When is the American right-wing going to smartin-up and pressure American authorities (despite their partisan bickering) like the left had for Woman’s basketball player Grirer? Counselors from embassy could of secured visits. Instead, potential advocates ceased lobbying for Gonzalez accesd .Let’s also blame our lack of organizing.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        That is false. He said the prisoners beat him up at the direction of the guards, one even apologized and said he did not want to do it. You also forget that Greiner was way more visible than Gonzalo ever was, and the MSM amplified her case, which did not happen here.

        1. Eric Peters

          Conservapedia(dot com) and several video eulogies (most from video posters who corresponded with him) have shed some light.Conservapedia claim/explain 3 people he contacted in hopes of facilitating his escape. It always been a mystery to me why people assume Ukraine is some monolith. They don’t outlaw other political groups unless they have domestic opposition. Gonzalo needed in-county Ukrainian speakers to facilitate safety as a fugitive until he could exploit weaknesses in the border to cross without official authorization. We know he tried to “take-this-chances”. Friends don’t let friends rely on the lottery. A wise person doesn’t try to walk through customs at the border with a pending trial date. A tired, and exasperated person have tried and repeatedly fail.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            I see your point but Larry Johnson, who Gonzalo called but did not reach, said he would have told Gonzalo to go to the US Embassy. They would have to take him in. Larry did not have to add, Ukraine could never had extradited him The crimes he was charged with in Ukraine are not crimes in the US.

        2. Eric Peters

          Extortionist prisoners aren’t going to give A mark, A road map of who is truly in on the extortion or not. Gonzalo was at the mercy of whoever could communicate in English or Spanish. Sadly, Lira was blind to his true abusers.

  5. Rubicon

    Our sentiments, exactly. Yves we know you interviewed Gonzalo months ago. You understook how talented and well educated he was.
    We read all of his tweets and online discussions. He studied philosophy, history in universities and understood finance. Surely you recognized that.
    In his last Twitter filmage, he explained that if he wasn’t able to cross the border, that he would end up in prison, or in “a labor camp” to be tortured & beaten. All that came true, but NOT one person: Elon Musk, nor Tucker Carlson, nor anyone else lifted a finger to help him. There was no hue or cry, pleading & demanding his freedom.

    We are very angered by this. All we can do now is to quote Shakespeare:
    “May the flight of angels sing thee to they rest.”

    1. Valerie in Australia

      I know Brian Berletic was very vocal in his support throughout Gonzalo’s imprisonment.

    2. Eric Peters

      I don’t think he was that wise. He was separated from his children. He praised an administration in South America who murdered their political opponents and dies from respiratory diseases while lightening up in his final videos. I am angered also but the American right needs to level-up in their sad tactics that are not delivering desired results. Tragic.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        He got pneumonia after he was in prison, FFS. He was incarcerated Aug 2. I know someone who got pneumonia who was otherwise healthy from having to stay with a relative in an apt. heated only to 63 degrees last winter in Germany. That happened within a couple of weeks.

  6. Albe Vado

    I genuinely didn’t like the guy, but after the war started he became a regularly useful source for views from within Ukraine itself.

    He absolutely didn’t deserve to die in a Ukrainian prison. I wonder if he was the victim of a growing sense of powerless frustration within a Ukrainian security apparatus that is painfully aware the jig is up. They took it out on a guy they had power over.

  7. Feral Finster

    Forgive me, but pretend that Lira were to have died in a Russian prison.

    His name would be on every newscaster’s lips, every bootlicker in the land would rush to proclaim that “I am Gonzalo Lira”, Anthony Blinken would pull Serious Faces while accusing Russia of all manner of wrongdoing, and the average pundit would be certain Putin personally traveled to Lira’s cell for the express purpose of murdering him with is own hands, That’s Just How Evil He Is. The WSJ and Times would unite in calling for WWIII to avenge the sacred blood of Gonzalo.

    But, since Lira died in a dungeon owned and operated by the Ukrainian pet, nobody of influence and authority cares.

    1. redleg

      I’ll bet at least some people of authority and influence in the USA cared, just not in Lira’s favor.

      1. Eric Peters

        We used to have authorities who crossed the partisan line and achieved results. Wars & invasions are not a game. Some simple antibiotics handed over in a visit would of extended his life.Gonzalo was still not convicted which even in Ukraine is a lesser prison classification. When we stop listening to blowhards like Iowa speech maker Donald Trump pretending he is going to quickly solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we might be headed in right direction.

    2. NYMutza

      Ex-presidents have intervened to get American citizens released from foreign custody. Where were Clinton, Obama, and Trump while Lira was detained in Ukraine?

    3. JohnA

      Maybe Ukraine and Zelensky should now be sanctioned in accordance with the Magnitsky Act. Or the US should pass a similar new law called the Gonzalo Act.

  8. hk

    RIP. In 19th century, great powers were willing to practically willing to go to war with friendly powers when their citizens’ lives and property were threatened (e.g. the Don Pacifico Affair): granted, they were actions of imperialism, but one does have to salute their commitment to their citizens. Now, we are an empire that’s willingly throwing away lives of its citizens for convenience of the alleged leaders. We are not even an empire worth our salt. At least subjects of a real empire can expect the empire to defend its own people. An empire whose clients can mistreat its citizens with impunity cannot expect to be treated with respect.

    1. Feral Finster

      To be fair, those empires were usually just looking for an excuse to start a fight.

      To be even more fair, it’s not as if Lira’s death did not come with the consent, passive to be sure and most likely active, of the American Empire.

      1. hk

        Yes, but an empire that kills its own citizens via the hands of its clients doesn’t deserve to be an empire. Julius Caesar understood this, when the Egyptians murdered Pompey.

        A real empire needs to command both fear and respect: protecting its own citizens from mistreatment by lesser powers is the way to get both. A petty vindictive cabal of thugs, even if they are all powerful, are still a cabal of thugs, not an empire.

        1. Feral Finster

          If the empire wanted Lira released, he’d be released.

          Frankly, I see no distinction between petty and vindictive thugs and an empire. Just one has more noble sounding slogans.

          1. hk

            Well run criminal gangs know what’s good for them in the long run and behave themselves except for the big fish. Two bit thugs sacrifice long term advantage to settle petty scores. Empiring is a big criminal enterprise and should be run by proper criminals, not too bit wannabes.

  9. notabanker

    My condolences to those that knew him and his family. I am completely disgusted and fed up with this country.

  10. Boston Red Sox

    RIP Coach Red Pill.
    Its a shame this second attempt at a youtube career cost him his life, presuming this isn’t a hoax.
    I feel for his his wife and kid but its a little sad that Gonzalo didn’t think a little more about them and focussed a little less about being a personality with a microphone.

    1. skippy

      This is where I am at, wife and kids first and foremost with close relatives next. All so avoidable.

      Location was not necessary for him to blog on YT or guest on others sites. I mean who would stick around Berlin and say negative stuff about the Third Reich, one way ticket to some very bad stuff, punitive.

      Its a shame and I feel for those that suffer his loss now …

      1. Lysias

        Lira’s death was not without purpose. It revealed the moral bankruptcy of the Zelensky and Biden regimes.

  11. Hickory

    Thank you for posting this. Very saddening and angering but not surprising. I watched the whole video. Some good pearls of wisdom in there.


  12. NYMutza

    Biden, Blinken, and Nuland are celebrating Lira’s death. Champagne is flowing. Another enemy of the state bites the dust. Hillary is likely overjoyed as well.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      But, does it really help them, besides on a schadenfreudian “feelings” level?

      Their pet government is now exposed as a murderer of journalists, in the same category as the Apartheid regime that killed Stephen Biko.

      Making martyrs doesn’t usually end well for both the martyr and they ones doing the killing.

  13. Bsn

    Thank You Yves. My husband and I will raise a glass to Gonzo tonight. We appreciated his point of view, especially since he decided to stay in Ukraine after earlier arrests. We’ll raise a glass to you Gonzo, but we’ll pass on the cigarettes :-)

    Some will say he was over the top, but how can anyone remain calm collected and proper when our country (USA) is committing such horrendous atrocities in both Ukraine and now Gaza. Of course let’s not forget Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Vietnam, Grenada, Chile, Nicaragua, The Balkans, South Africa (remember the original apartheid?), Laos, Cambodia, Taiwan …. oh heck, I’m tired of typing.

    Rest in Peace Brother Gonzo

    1. Thoth

      Re Chile, Gonzalo Lira was actually a staunch supporter of Pinochet. I would deduce from this that his take on US foreign policy in South and Central America last century is probably very different from your own.
      I never quite understood Lira’s apparent inconsistency in denouncing Ukraine’s fascist ideology and its SBU, that actually has much in common with the former Pinochet regime, chasing and killing its political opponents.
      I suspect it has a lot to do with the fact that he loathed left-liberal wokeism, identity politics, the admittedly weak crop of western leaders, etc., and saw current Russia’s values as closer to his own.

  14. Joe Well

    My thoughts are with everyone who knew him, including Yves. Yves, you did what you could to bring awareness to his case and help him.

    I wonder if the killing could be a kind of tit for tat for the US turning off the money spigot to the Ukraine.

  15. Bugs

    I’m so so sorry to learn this. He was a good man trying to get out the truth and I know some people here were close to him. What an absolute indictment of the ruling caste. I’m here if anyone wants to contact me. I hereby give permission to the site owners to share my contact information by email with other comrades. I think it’s time for direct action to influence opinion and change governments through all possible legal means.

  16. The Rev Kev

    He will be sadly missed by so many. Looking for English news of his death online in Google news, I see it reported by the Grayzone, WSAU in Wisconsin and the Post Millennial. Biden’s State Department helped the Ukrainians kill him and so far it looks like the main stream media will give this story a miss. I of course wait for the White House Press Pool to start asking questions about his death in Ukrainian custody-


  17. Daniel

    Tucket Carlson talk about him a couple of times, including an interview with his father a couple of weeks ago. Elon Musk is not the departement of state of the US…

  18. David in Friday Harbor

    The murder of Gonzalo Lira is an outrage. This isn’t some Netflix espionage procedural. A real person has been murdered for simply speaking truth to power. This is how the “friends” of Biden, Blinken, and Nuland have operated since the breakup of the USSR.

    These “Ukrainians” have consistently and shamelessly told us who they are, but now have also shown us who our leaders are: Murderers.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Absolutely, but knowing that as Lira did, why stay in Ukraine, even before the first arrest? After all, Nazis are going to Nazi.

        This site and its commentariat, myself included, regularly speak of these Ukrainian fascists in the harshest possible terms, as Lira himself did. Yet he inexplicably stayed in Kharkiv, almost daring them to come after him. Obviously, none of it justifies what the Ukrainians did to him, but it still defies common sense.

          1. Michael Fiorillo

            That suggests a possible explanation, but doesn’t answer the question. I don’t want to overstate the point, because the focus should be on the crimes of the Ukrainian government, but with dual US-Chilean citizenship, I still can’t see his remaining in Ukraine as anything other than reckless, especially given his status as a husband and father.

            1. Lysias

              Lira’s death highlighted the moral bankruptcy of the Zelensky and Biden regimes. To reveal an important truth is never reckless. I prefer to regard his death as heroic.

    1. David in Friday Harbor

      Lira apparently had suffered from severe double-pneumonia since October, that his jailers only acknowledged on December 22. This sort of neglect is how the Nazis tormented and killed many of their captives. They allowed them to die of “natural causes” that would have been easily treatable under normal circumstances.

      Fascism often murders by calculated neglect, intentionally inflicting a death as horrible and inhumane in its own way to its victims as any gas chamber or pistol-shot to the base of the skull. https://thegrayzone.com/2024/01/12/gonzalo-lira-dies-ukrainian-prison/

      1. playon

        Fascism often murders by calculated neglect

        Yes indeed – witness the current US COVID policies, so-called “deaths of despair” etc etc.

      2. undercurrent

        ‘Fascism often murders by calculated neglect…’ Sounds an awful lot like the approximate function of capitalism, in particular of American capitalism. Could it be that at some level, fascism requires a capitalist system to capture political power, or simply, that fascism follows capitalism? Or, is fascism just another kind of capitalism?

  19. Milton

    A general Gonzalo lira search only brings up a few returns on his deathn all from non corporate-media sources. When the state media wants a story squelched, they are efficient in their collusive arrangement.

  20. ThirtyOne

    Interesting tidbit:

    In addition, Lira tried to spy on American journalists covering the war in Ukraine and publish their addresses. This put U.S. citizens at risk, as hundreds of crimes of the Russian military against journalists were recorded in Ukraine, including targeted strikes, assassinations, and abductions. The first foreign journalist to die in the full-scale war was American Brent Renaud. The Russian military shot him on March 13, 2022, in the occupied Irpin, Kyiv region.

    The testimony in the case of Gonzalo Lira was given by American journalist Sarah Ashton-Cirillo, who has been covering the hostilities in Ukraine since spring 2022, and now serves with the Territorial Defence Forces of Ukraine.


    That would be this journalist:

    1. The Rev Kev

      Obviously you have never seen even one of Sarah Ashton-Cirillo’s videos or you would not be using them as a source. And Cirillo has given testimony against Lira to see him put in prison and even put to death. Cirillo is such a terrible person that when they return to the US, the Democrats are sure to offer them a position in their party.

    2. JohnA

      Ashton-Cirillo was too much of a nutjob even for the Ukrainian Defence Force that felt compelled to fired her forthwith.

  21. Eudora Welty

    I’m so late to this this thread, although I did hear the news about Gonzalo right away. Thank you to Yves for highlighting him and participating in discussions with him. It’s probably that, as a teen during the Vietnam years, that I fantasized about being a war correspondent, and so I followed Gonzalo with interest. One thing he said, in around spring of 2023, was that Biden would be out of the Prez race by July (it wasn’t clear which July, but it seemed like July 2023, which obviously has come and gone). That seemed like unnecessary speculation, and I really doubted him for the first time. I also noted that even I could have figured out that authorities were giving me a green light during that moment when he could have fled but did not. I didn’t think Gonzalo could be more naive than me. I feel so bad that he suffered so much. He was a funny, colorful, eccentric guy who was easy to listen to. I’m glad I followed along on his journey.

  22. Valerie in Australia

    I found Gonzalo through following a link where you were on the panel, Yves. I liked the interview and stuck around. Through his show, I became acquainted with a lot of people in Independent Media I would not otherwise have known existed. I am better informed as a result. Very sad news – and very disturbing that his own country was happy to throw him under the bus. This is a scary time for good journalism. Free speech isn’t so free any more.

  23. The Rev Kev

    I was just thinking earlier. Lira spent his last years in Kharkov and has died there. Now because of the repeated Ukrainian attacks on Belgrograd, which is a civilian city, the Russians have probably concluded that to make this city safe that they will have to take Kharkov across the border which is a Russian city anyway. So wouldn’t it be something if after this war that the Russians allowed a statue of Gonzalo Lira to be erected in one of their parks. I would chip in money to see that happen.

  24. Gregory Etchason

    Gonzalo was entertaining but arrogant to a fault. His exiled wife and two children are victims of this arrogance. Gonzalo missed the most important point in life “It’s NEVER just about you.”

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      So you will say the same true of journalists in Gaza? One famous example:

      November 1:

      Wael Dahdouh stood facing away from the camera for once, leaning against the wall to hide his tears.

      He was at the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital to bid a final farewell to his wife, son, daughter and grandson who had just been killed in an Israeli air raid that hit the house they were sheltering in.

      When he turned to face his audience, it was to be interviewed by a colleague, the same way he had interviewed so many others before.

      He composed himself and started to talk, but when it came to counting the people he had lost, his voice gradually lost assurance. Then it broke. Tears filled his eyes as he mentioned his seven-year-old daughter Sham, the second-youngest of the victims.

      The youngest was Wael’s grandson, Adam, who was one and a half.

      “My siblings and cousins were there, too, and my daughters are all injured,” he said. “But I suppose I should thank God that at least some of my family survived.”


      January 7:

      Hamza Dahdouh, the eldest son of Al Jazeera’s Gaza bureau chief, Wael Dahdouh, has been killed by an Israeli missile strike in the western part of Khan Younis, Gaza.

      Journalist Mustafa Thuraya was also killed in the attack, when the vehicle they were travelling in near al-Mawasi, a supposedly safe area towards the southwest, was struck by the missile. A third passenger, Hazem Rajab, was seriously injured.

      According to reports from Al Jazeera correspondents, Hamza and Mustafa’s vehicle was targeted as they were trying to interview civilians displaced by previous bombings.


      And how about all the doctors who stayed in hospitals in Gaza to the end as they were being shelled by Israel, with the result that they died? Was this too about them?

    2. Sibiriak

      “His exiled wife and two children are victims of this arrogance. ”

      Alexander Mercouris tells a very different story:

      …I know there’s been a huge amount of speculation as to why [Gonzalo Lira] chose to remain in Ukraine, but the explanation is very simple. Gonzalo did not want it to be widely disclosed, talked about–he was in fact a private man.

      But anyway, the explanation was very simple. His two children were in Ukraine, aged ten and seven. There was immense difficulty arranging to have them brought out of Ukraine, and as a father he wanted to be close to them, as close to them as possible.


  25. Louis Fyne

    *supposedly per anon social media comment, don’t take this as fact* Lira has two young sons in Kharkiv.

    This may explain Lira’s reluctance to leave earlier.

  26. airgap

    Learning of his death on this overcast drizzly morning has cloaked me in a pall of sadness for the loss of such a talented and daring individual. My deepest condolences go out to his family and to those who knew him well. It didn’t have to end this way. RIP Gonzalo Lira.

  27. Paul Art

    A very courageous man but perhaps a foolhardy one. What exactly was he thinking? People like Gonzalo are rare in this world and it is infuriating when they don’t use their cleverness in evading their enemies. He should have collected all the dirt and then moved to an undisclosed location before outing everyone and everything.

    1. Paul Art

      Just watched Scott Ritter’s TOD video on Gonzalo and I must say it does not paint a very pretty picture of the man. Don’t know who or what to believe. I am inclined to trust Ritter more because he has built a very solid reputation as a truth teller at an astronomical cost to himself and his family and it all happened real-time in front of our eyes before, during and after the Dubya/Cheney Iraq outrage. If the SBU did turn Lira and if that made him do certain things that appeared really suspicious then I would not hold it against him. He did his part. RIP

  28. Waking Up

    His death is so sad.

    At this point in time, the best I can hope for is justice for those who have died due to our killing machine.

  29. Eoin Mac

    Lira added that he was tortured in prison by other inmates, which saw him beaten and sleep-deprived, with his “arms twisted the wrong way around at the shoulder.”

    These allegations were strenuously denied by Sarah Ashton-Cirillo, a former American journalist who became a sergeant in the Ukrainian army, in an interview with Business Insider. Ashton-Cirillo said: “In an effort to gain sympathy, Gonzalo Lira made up allegations of abuse and torture. As someone who spoke to him shortly after he was returned to custody, it was clear that he was in good health and treated extremely fairly by the state security services.”

    This is from Newsweek. Gonzalo Lira is in heaven laughing at this.

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