Martin O'Hagan

Episode 3.8: Martin O’Hagan

A journalist in Northern Ireland, Martin O'Hagan was murdered in a drive-by shooting in 2001. He had made many enemies over the years. As a young man, he fought for the IRA in the 1970s. But he abandoned the armed struggle in order to become a journalist, eventually gaining the respect of many of his peers for his hard-hitting investigative work, which exposed the ill deeds of those on both sides of the conflict. A major focus of his work was the alleged collusion of the police and British military with Loyalist paramilitary death squads. With no one ever convicted of his murder, friends of O'Hagan have questioned if the police might still be protecting his assassins.

A transcript of this episode is available here.

Ruth First Part 2

Episode 3.7: Ruth First Part 2

This week, we conclude our look at the life and assassination of South African journalist and anti-apartheid activist, Ruth First. In this episode, we look at how worsening conditions in South Africa forced Ruth First & Joe Slovo to make the difficult decision to leave the country. We follow Ruth’s career as she continues her journalistic work and breaks into the world of academia, track Joe’s rise to become leader of the Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the military wing of the ANC, and look at the details of Ruth’s assassination in Maputo, Mozambique in 1982. 

A transcript of this episode is available here.

EPISODE SPONSORS:

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Ruth First Part 1

Episode 3.6: Ruth First Part 1

In Part 1 of our two-part episode on the life and death of South African journalist Ruth First, we find out about her early involvement in the struggle against racial inequality. Working for various newspapers, Ruth exposed some of the horrific living and working condition endured by black South Africans in the 1940s and 50s. With her husband, Joe Slovo, she became a leading member of the Communist Party and an ally of Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress. With the passage of the apartheid laws in 1948 and then the Suppression of Communist Act in 1950, the National Party government cracked down on all opposition to white minority rule, making life increasingly difficult for Ruth, Joe, and the entire anti-apartheid movement.

A transcript of this episode is available here.

EPISODE SPONSORS:

  • Free Your Tea is a premium loose leaf tea subscription that helps you discover your new favorite tea! Get 10% OFF your subscription by using code ASSASSINATIONS at FreeYourTea.com 

  • Shaker & Spoon, a monthly subscription that sends you everything you need to make bartender-designed, craft cocktails at home. Get $20 OFF your subscription by visiting shakerandspoon.com/assassin

Ahmed Divela

Episode 3.5: Ahmed Divela

Ghana is one of the safest places in Africa to be a journalist. In fact, it ranks higher in terms of press freedom than the United States and Great Britain. But earlier this year, the status of journalism in Ghana took a massive step backwards. Ahmed Divela, who worked for the investigative journalism website Tiger Eye, was shot to death on the streets of Accra on January 17, 2019. Divela had helped to expose corruption inside the country's soccer association, and had been threatened by a leading Ghanaian politician who was implicated in the scandal.

A transcript of this episode is available here.

EPISODE SPONSORS:

  • Free Your Tea is a premium loose leaf tea subscription that helps you discover your new favorite tea! Get 10% OFF your subscription by using code ASSASSINATIONS at FreeYourTea.com

  • DreamCloud is offering Assassinations Podcast listeners $200 OFF any side mattress. Just use this link.

Sergio Rojas

Episode 3.4: Sergio Rojas

This week, we’re taking a quick break from our current season about journalists to investigate a breaking story. On March 18, Sergio Rojas, an indigenous rights leader, was gunned down in his home in Costa Rica. His death has been linked to the long-running disputes between tribal peoples and non-indigenous farmers in the Térraba River region of Costa Rica. While it is currently unclear who killed Rojas, many who knew him believe that he was assassinated because of his role at the forefront of the struggle for indigenous land rights. The case has received almost no coverage in the English-language press, but it was brought to our attention by Russell Davis. Russell is a celebrity bartender and consultant, who's also the Chief Cocktail Officer of our program sponsor, Shaker & Spoon. He was working with indigenous groups in Costa Rica when Sergio Rojas was killed, and in this episode we speak with Davis, who offers us his insight into the situation. 

A transcript of this episode is available here.

Episode Sponsor:

  • Shaker & Spoon, a monthly subscription that sends you everything you need to make bartender-designed, craft cocktails at home. Get $20 OFF your subscription by visiting shakerandspoon.com/assassin

Jamal Khashoggi Part 3

Episode 3.3: Jamal Khashoggi Part 3

This episode marks the conclusion of our three-part investigation into the assassination of the Saudi writer and political commentator Jamal Khashoggi. After a massive international public outcry, and with clear signs that the United States' government was in possession of damning evidence that Khashoggi was the victim of a brutal assassination, the Saudis put eleven men on trial in January 2019. There are claims that the accused were part of a team of Saudi operatives known as the "Tiger Squad,” which has allegedly carried out several assassinations of opponents of the Saudi leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Whatever the outcome of this trial, which has been criticized by numerous human rights groups, questions remain as to whether anyone at the top of the Saudi government will be held responsible.

A transcript of this episode is available here.

Episode sponsors:

  • Shaker & Spoon, a monthly subscription that sends you everything you need to make bartender-designed, craft cocktails at home. Get $20 OFF your subscription by visiting shakerandspoon.com/assassin

  • DreamCloud is offering Assassinations Podcast listeners $200 OFF any side mattress. Just use this link.

Jamal Khashoggi Part 2

Episode 3.2: Jamal Khashoggi Part 2

In the second part of our three part investigation into the assassination of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, we find out about his criticisms of the government of his home country, and especially its new leader, Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman. Even as the Saudi government launched an international charm offensive in 2018 to improve the image of the oil-rich kingdom, Khashoggi, living in exile in the United States, wrote about human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia and attempted to organize opponents of the regime. It seems that he was deliberately lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, where a team of assassins - allegedly known as the Tiger Squad - was waiting for him. 

A transcript of this episode is available here.

EPISODE SPONSORS:

  • Shaker & Spoon, a monthly subscription that sends you everything you need to make bartender-designed, craft cocktails at home. Get $20 OFF your subscription by visiting shakerandspoon.com/assassin

  • Free Your Tea is a premium loose leaf tea subscription that helps you discover your new favorite tea! Get 10% OFF your subscription by using code ASSASSINATIONS at FreeYourTea.com

Jamal Khashoggi Part 1

Episode 3.1: Jamal Khashoggi Part 1

We’re kicking off Season 3 with a three-part investigation into the assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Looking to pick up some routine paperwork, he walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey in October, 2018 … and never walked out. In Part 1, we explore Khashoggi’s background as the scion of one of the most important families in Saudi Arabia, his work as a journalist, his relationship with Osama bin-Laden, and his escalating disputes with the Saudi government. It is a journey that will take us from from the royal palaces of Riyadh, to the caves of Afghanistan, to the clandestine world of the CIA, as we discover that the assassination of Khashoggi has important implications for Saudi Arabia, its international relations, and the status of journalists.

A transcript of this episode is available here.

EPISODE SPONSORS:

  • Free Your Tea is a premium loose leaf tea subscription that helps you discover your new favorite tea! Get 10% OFF your subscription by using code ASSASSINATIONS at FreeYourTea.com

  • DreamCloud is offering Assassinations Podcast listeners $200 OFF any side mattress. Just use this link.

Season 3 Teaser Trailer: Journalists

Season 3 Teaser Trailer: Journalists

Whether they’re working for a major international news organization or their own humble blog, a threat against a journalist is an attack on the very right of free speech. In Season 3 of Assassinations Podcast, we will look at some of the threats faced by journalists who have been targeted for digging up “inconvenient” facts and challenging those in positions of power.  

Our new season launches March 25th. Check out our teaser trailer for a taste of what's coming this season, and subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher to make sure you're one of the first to know when new episodes go live.

UPDATE: Alexander Litvinenko & the Polonium Plot

Episode 2.15: UPDATE: Alexander Litvinenko & the Polonium Plot

In this, the final episode of Season 2, we revisit the case of Alexander Litvinenko & the Polonium Plot. After closing the book on this investigation several weeks ago, we couldn’t ignore the niggling suspicion that something wasn’t quite right about the timeline of events on the day that Litvinenko was allegedly poisoned. After delving deeper into the evidence, a shocking number of inconsistencies emerged. Here, we look at the conflicting evidence and testimony, challenge the findings of the British inquiry, and try to make sense of this sensational case. 

Sergei Skripal & the Poisoned Perfume Part 3

Episode 2.14: Sergei Skripal & the Poisoned Perfume Part 3

In the final installment of our three-part episode, we begin by traveling to Bulgaria to examine a possible link between the Salisbury poisonings and an alleged assassination attempt against a Bulgarian arms dealer. Navigating through the diplomatic storm that rages between Britain and Russia since the Skripals fell ill, we enter a realm of hackers, spies, and informational warfare. Sorting evidence from assertion, we consider the strange aspects of the case, and we consider the very real tragedy of the death of Dawn Sturgess.

Sergei Skripal & the Poisoned Perfume Part 2

Episode 2.13: Sergei Skripal & the Poisoned Perfume Part 2

In Part 2 of this three-part episode, we learn that after coming to Britain in a spy swap in 2010, Sergei Skripal maintained a relationship with his MI6 case officer and continued to carry out intelligence work. According to interviews Skripal gave to a BBC journalist, he continued to work with British and American authorities until 2017. His MI6 handler, Pablo Miller, worked for a private company called Orbis Business Intelligence, which prepared the "Trump-Russia Dossier.” We find out about the two Russian men accused by the British government of being responsible for the attempted assassination of the Skripals, and we look at the claims by an investigative website, Bellingcat, that they were not who they claimed to be.

Sergei Skripal & the Poisoned Perfume Part 1

Episode 2.12 Sergei Skripal & the Poisoned Perfume Part 1

Part 1/3. In March, 2018, a man and a woman were found on a bench in the middle of the small and sleepy English cathedral city of Salisbury. They appeared very unwell and were rushed to a hospital, where they were treated for a suspected overdose of fentanyl. But it soon became clear that this was not just another tragic drug overdose. Rather, the man was an ex-Russian intelligence officer named Sergei Skripal, and— along with his daughter— it seemed he'd actually been deliberately poisoned with an incredibly dangerous toxin. Had Skripal's work as a spy caught up with him?

Alexander Litvinenko & the Polonium Plot Part 2

Episode 2.11: Alexander Litvinenko & the Polonium Plot Part 2


Even as he was still clinging onto life in a hospital bed, Alexander Litvinenko’s death was being carefully stage-managed by his erstwhile employer, Boris Berezovsky. As a result of this PR campaign, blame for Litvinenko’s poisoning quickly fell on Russia. The Russian government became the target of British and international outrage, with President Vladimir Putin roundly condemned as having assassinated one of his critics. But was there more to the story? In the concluding part of this episode, we step into a subterranean world of Russian oligarchs, Chechen militants, and a very shady Italian "nuclear weapons expert” to try and find out: who killed Alexander Litvinenko? 

Alexander Litvinenko & the Polonium Plot Part 1

Episode 2.10: Alexander Litvinenko & the Polonium Plot Part 1

After 23 days of agonizing illness, Alexander Litvinenko died in a hospital in London in 2006. The post-mortem recorded his cause of death as poisoning by ingestion of a lethal substance, the radionuclide polonium-210. In the first part of this episode, we explore the details of his flight from Russia to Britain, consider the significance of his relationship with billionaire oligarch Boris Berezovsky, investigate his final days, and find out how his death caused an international sensation. 

T.E. Lawrence, an Agitator in Arabian Robes

Episode 2.9: T.E. Lawrence, an Agitator in Arabian Robes

Known to the world as Lawrence of Arabia, Thomas Edward Lawrence was a British army officer who operated behind enemy lines during the First World War. A spy and agent provocateur, he played an important role in the Arab Revolt against Ottoman rule. After the war, Lawrence struggled with his celebrity persona. He may also have continued with covert work in Britain and in India. Lawrence died under suspicious circumstances in 1935. In this special episode, we explore the life of T.E. Lawrence and interview independent filmmaker Mark Griffin on his upcoming feature, "Lawrence: After Arabia,” which explores the final years of Lawrence’s life.

Ashraf Marwan, the Spy Who Fell to Earth Part 2

Episode 2.8: Ashraf Marwan, the Spy Who Fell to Earth Part 2

Ashraf Marwan, once the most valued Israeli intelligence asset, moved from Egypt to England - taking an ill-gotten fortune with him. In London, he turned this into a billion-dollar business empire. He continued to operate in the realm of spies - working with Mossad, MI6, various Arab regimes, and others - at least until he was outed as a spy in 2002. In Part 2 of this episode, we look into Marwan's opaque activities and the events that led up to his death in 2007. British authorities ruled that Marwan's death was not suspicious. But there were some strange aspects to the investigation, and many questions remain unanswered today.

Ashraf Marwan, the Spy Who Fell to Earth Part 1

Episode 2.7: Ashraf Marwan, the Spy Who Fell to Earth Part 1

In 2007, a man lay dead in a rose garden in the exclusive London neighborhood of Mayfair. Within hours of the discovery of his body, people were asking: did he fall, did he jump ... or was he pushed? The man's name was Ashraf Marwan, and he had once been - it was said - the most important spy of the 20th Century. To his neighbors, he was just a very wealthy Egyptian businessman, whose name had been linked to some high profile deals. But as we will find out in this first part of our episode, he had also been the most valued intelligence asset in the history of Israel - a man whose secret reports to Mossad shaped Israeli policy in the lead-up to the Yom Kippur War. 

Boris Korczak, the Spy with Nine Lives Part 2

Episode 2.6: Boris Korczak, the Spy with Nine Lives Part 2

Following on from the first part of our episode, in which we recreated an interview with Boris Korczak that took place in Washington, DC in 1982, we take a closer look at the strange life of this ex-CIA agent. We learn of his early life in communist Poland and his escape to Denmark, where he started to work on behalf of the United States. We hear another of his stories, in which the top CIA man in Copenhagen got drunk and outed him as a spy. We examine the similarities between Korczak's claims and the story of Georgi Markov. And we ponder - how much can we believe the "Spy with Nine Lives" as he battled the CIA for compensation?

Boris Korczak, the Spy with Nine Lives Part 1

Episode 2.5: Boris Korczak, the Spy with Nine Lives Part 1

With a touch of James Bond, a soupçon of Inspector Clouseau, and a dash of Walter Mitty, the story of Boris Korczak seems too out-there to be true. A Polish Lithuanian emigre, Korczak worked for seven years as a CIA asset within the KGB before his cover was blown. In this week’s episode, we recreate a radio interview with Korczak that took place on WRC’s Joel Spivak Show in October 1982 in which Korczak makes some incredible claims and remarkable allegations. Did a psychotic Soviet assassin really come to kill him, but instead drink an entire bottle of vodka while sitting at his kitchen table? Was Korczak really shot with a poisoned pellet while he wrestled with a plastic bag in the fruit aisle of a supermarket in suburban Virginia? Whatever is true, this is a story you don't want to miss.