Anchors & Reporters
Ben Wedeman

Ben Wedeman has been CNN’s senior international correspondent based in Rome, Italy since November 2012.

Prior to this posting Wedeman was based in Cairo, Egypt and led CNN's coverage of the uprising against then-President Hosni Mubarak as well as the wider unrest in the Middle East.

Wedemen has also previously served as a correspondent at CNN’s Jerusalem bureau, covering the peace process, the battles between Fatah and Hamas, politics and society in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Wedeman was the first reporter to break the news of the release of kidnapped BBC journalist Alan Johnston in Gaza in July 2007. He was also the first Western reporter to enter Gaza from Egypt during Israel’s late 2008 - early 2009 offensive.

In the summer of 2006 Wedeman reported from south Lebanon where he was CNN’s senior reporter in Tyre during the war between Israel and Hezbollah. Wedeman and the CNN team he worked with during this time went on to win the RTNDA Edward R. Murrow award for their coverage from Lebanon.

Wedeman was CNN’s bureau chief in Cairo from 1998 to 2006. There, he closely followed the so-called "Arab spring," during which human rights and political activists frequently clashed with Egyptian security forces in their quest for democracy.

He also covered a succession of wars in the Balkans, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, numerous crises in Iraq. Wedeman also covered famine and strife in Africa, including award-winning coverage of the brutal civil war in Sierra Leone.

In 2003 he reported on the US-led invasion of Iraq from Kurdish territory in the north of the country where he was one of the first journalists to cover the fall of the city of Kirkuk. He continued to follow developments in Iraq following the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, travelling throughout the country highlighting the myriad of difficulties that would confront coalition forces as they tried to impose order in the post-Saddam era. Wedeman was also the first western journalist to interview Iraqi prisoners tortured by American soldiers in what was to become the infamous Abu Ghraib scandal.

In 2002 he played a central role in CNN’s coverage of the Operation Defensive Shield, when Israel, retaliating for a series of bloody suicide bombings, reoccupied the West Bank. He was there at every critical twist and turn of the story, for suicide bombings in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa, and for the Israeli incursions in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Tulkaram and Jenin.

Following the September 11 2001 terror attacks on the United States, Wedeman was one of the few journalists to gain access to Iraq, picking up on Iraqi fears that eventually Washington’s wrath would be felt in Baghdad. In Afghanistan he subsequently covered the collapse of the Taliban, and was the only western journalist to interview, via radio and in Arabic, Al-Qaeda fighters holed up in the rugged mountains of Tora Bora.

Shortly afterwards, in Karachi, Pakistan, Wedeman obtained the first interview with Marianne Pearl, the wife of kidnapped - and later executed - Wall Street Journal reporter, Daniel Pearl.

Wedeman has been with CNN since 1994, when he joined the network’s bureau in Amman, Jordan, as a fixer/producer/sound technician. In 1995 he became the Amman bureau chief where he was responsible not only for the network’s coverage of Jordan’s evolving relationship with Israel after their historic peace deal, but also for coverage of Iraq under Saddam Hussein. In 1996 he was part of the CNN team that won the overseas press club Edward R. Murrow Award for Best TV interpretation or documentary on foreign affairs

He was the first journalist in to Baghdad and the last one out when it came to CNN’s renowned coverage of Iraq. During that time he covered a bruising succession of crises between Iraq and the United Nations over weapons inspections. Along the way he focused on the plight of ordinary Iraqis under the draconian system of sanctions imposed by the UN where he distinguished himself for his in-depth coverage of the impact of those sanctions. He was also the only western journalist to obtain an exclusive interview with Udai Saddam Hussein, the notorious son of the Iraqi dictator.

Wedeman’s reporting has been recognised with an Emmy and an Edward R. Murrow award for his coverage of the brutal civil war in Sierra Leone.

Before joining CNN, Wedeman worked as a freelance print journalist based in Amman, Jordan, covering the news in Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Sudan. He has lived on and off in the Middle East since 1974, and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Oriental Languages and Linguistics from the University of Texas, Austin, and a masters degree in Middle Eastern Studies from London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies. Obsessed with languages, Wedeman is fluent in Arabic, Italian and French, has a working knowledge of Hebrew, and has studied Japanese, Russian, Farsi, ancient Egyptian, and classical and contemporary Mongolian.

Follow Ben on Twitter @bencnn

 

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