Lizzie Phelan

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Lizzie Phelan
Born Elizabeth Cocker
c. 1986
Nationality British
Occupation Journalist
Employer RT
Organization RT (formerly freelance)

Elizabeth Cocker (born c. 1986), known professionally as Lizzie Phelan, is a British journalist. She is employed as a reporter by RT (formerly Russia Today) and in the field of alternative media, and specializes in reporting as a war correspondent, having filed dispatches from the field during the fall of the Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi, the Syrian Civil War, and war on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.[1][2][2]


Elizabeth Cocker took the name Phelan from her Irish grandmother and uses it for her professional work.[1] Her great-grandfather was William Phelan, who was a member of the Irish Citizen Army. She did a postgraduate study in journalism.[1]


She first worked for the Daily Mail for experience before leaving after a few months for the Morning Star, under the byline Lizzie Cocker.[1] Later she changed her byline to Lizzie Phelan. Lizzie Phelan is a freelance journalist, and her work has appeared in RT (formerly Russia Today) and the Iranian news network Press TV.[1] Phelan was a freelance journalist in Libya and used as an analyst for reaction by PressTV. In Damascus, Syria, she worked with Mostafa Afzalzadeh on a documentary called Manufacturing Dissent (2012). After completing her work in Syria, she reported from Managua, Nicaragua as a correspondent for Press TV and appeared on RT, reporting from Venezuela.[citation needed] In 2013, she was head of the newsroom at RT's, and is now RT's correspondent in Damascus, Syria.[3][4]


Reporting from Libya[edit]

During the 2011 military intervention in Libya, Phelan referred to Libyan rebels as "counter revolutionaries" and stated that "90% of the tribes in Libya are supportive of the government".[5] She also reported witnessing war crimes committed by the National Transitional Council with the complicity of NATO in September.

Although she was among the western journalists held captive by pro-Qaddafi forces during the siege of the Rixos hotel in the hours prior to the fall of Tripoli,[6] she appeared on a Skype interview on Russia Today claiming she was being "protected" by the government and that gunfire were actually "fireworks and celebratory gunfire" because the rebels having been defeated.[7]

Phelan also wrote about the "millions"[8] of black Libyans who were under risk of violence by rebels.[9] Phelan claimed that there were summary executions of members of the Qadhadhfa tribe by members of the National Transitional Council:

A female friend of mine and university lecturer who had gained her doctorate at the London School of Economics (see picture), Salma, committed the crime of coming from the same tribe as Gaddafi, the Qadhafadhfa. She was shot dead as she fled for the airport along with her mother and two nieces, Yam aged 20 months and Aden, who was just three-weeks old.[10]

When Tripoli then fell to the NTC, she was evacuated by the Red Cross to the Corinthia Hotel. She was able to leave Tripoli on a fishing boat on 29 August to Malta along with former US congressman Walter E. Fauntroy who had also been reported missing during his negotiation mission in Libya.[11]

British regulatory response to reporting[edit]

In September 2012, UK broadcast regulator Ofcom, found that two Libyan dispatches broadcast by Phelan on RT in August 2011 were in breach of its code on accuracy and impartiality.[12][13]

The channel responded to Ofcom's allegations insisting that "subsequent developments of the situation in Libya did however confirm", in their opinion "that Lizzie Phelan was correct in her assertions", referring to reports of civilian casualties by opposition and NATO forces by Amnesty International and the International Rescue Committee.[13]

Ofcom had ended the availability of Press TV in the United Kingdom in January 2012 because its license was being controlled from Iran instead of from the UK.[14][15] Phelan has worked for Press TV as a correspondent in Libya and then in Nicaragua. The Guardian said her Libyan reporting was "controversial".[12]

Reporting from Syria[edit]

Phelan appeared on the Syrian Arab News Agency in January 2012 to provide a foreign journalist's perspective about how Western media were portraying Syria. She told SANA about contradictions in the coverage of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Western media that portray him as disconnected from his people, but she reported about her experience observing him at a rally with supporters.[16] Robert Mackey, who was interviewing her for The New York Times, responded critically to her appearance on SANA.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Mackey, Robert (1 February 2012). "An Interview with Lizzie Phelan" (video). 40.755978;-73.990396: The New York Times. Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Fais, Andrea (7 March 2012). "Interview: Lizzie Phelan". Eurasia: Rivista di studi geopolitici. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  3. ^ "Lizzie Phelan – Germany". Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Phelan, Lizzie (22 October 2012). "The Majority of Libyans support Gaddafi". Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  6. ^ Phelan, Lizzie (22 October 2012). "Image of captive journalists at Rixos Hotel". Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  7. ^ Phelan, Lizzie (22 October 2012). "Lizzie Phelan on Russia Today from Rixos Hotel". Russia Todaz. Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  8. ^ Phelan, Lizzie (22 October 2012). "Bani Walid under Siege". Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  9. ^ Phelan, Lizzie (8 September 2011). "Testimony: Witnessing the Transition to fear in Tripoli". Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  10. ^ Phelan, Lizzie (22 September 2011). "Witch hunts in "free" Libya". Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  11. ^ Voltaire Network (29 August 2011). "Voltaire Network journalists arrived safely in Malta | Voltaire Network Press Release". Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  12. ^ a b "Libya coverage 'broke broadcasting code'". The Guardian (UK). 19 September 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  13. ^ a b "Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin 10 September 2012" (PDF). Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  14. ^ Sweney, Mark (20 January 2012). "Iran's Press TV loses UK licence". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  15. ^ "Lizzie Phelan Interview about Syria" (interview). Syrian Youths. 7 February 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  16. ^ "British Journalist: Image of Events on the Ground in Syria Is Completely Contrary to Media Depictions". Syrian Arab News Agency. 14 January 2012. 

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