Blue Peter presenter and director Max Stahl has died aged 66

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Max Stahl, a former Blue Peter presenter who became an award-winning filmmaker after exposing a massacre in Timor-Leste, formerly East Timor, has died aged 66.

Known as Christopher Wenner during his time on the BBC children’s TV show from 1978 to 1980, he changed his name in the early 1990s.

In 1991, he filmed the massacre of 271 protesters against the Indonesian regime in Timor-Leste, after entering journalism in the mid-1980s. He died Wednesday of cancer in Brisbane, Australia.

His wife, Ingrid, announced his death, writing: “The king is dead. With great sadness, I am writing to inform you that Max passed away this morning.

Stahl also starred after leaving Blue Peter, appearing in a 1984 Doctor Who adventure, The Awakening. He worked as a war correspondent in Beirut, covering the civil war in Lebanon in 1985, before traveling to Timor-Leste after the relaxation of restrictions on tourism in 1989.

In 1991, he attended a protest in Dili organized after a memorial service for a supporter of Timor-Leste’s independence from Indonesia, which had ruled the former Portuguese colony since its invasion in 1975. He saw 200 Indonesian soldiers open fire on a crowd of more than 2,000 peaceful protesters.

Stahl told the BBC in 2016: “I was just getting my camera ready when there was a wall of sound, at least 10 seconds of continuous gunfire. The soldiers who arrived fired point blank at a crowd of several thousand young people. “

He added: “I could easily see that it was only a matter of time before they came to me, and at that point I thought, well, I should get away from it all. ‘here. “

Stahl buried his film in a cemetery, then smuggled it out for broadcast. The images brought the plight of Timor-Leste to the world’s attention and won it an Amnesty International award.

Former President of Timor-Leste, José Ramos-Horta, paid tribute to Stahl, calling him a “darling son”.

Reflecting on Stahl’s work on the 1991 massacre, he said: “There are only a few key points in the history of Timor-Leste where the course of our nation has turned to freedom. It was one of those points.

Stahl also won the Rory Peck Award for Hard News, the world’s first award for independent camera journalism, after returning to Timor-Leste in 2000.


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