British surgeon fears helping doctors in Syria via Skype and Whatsapp led to hospital bombing

'It is a crime against humanity that you can’t even help a doctor in another country carry out an operation,' says eminent medic

Harriet Agerholm
Wednesday 21 March 2018 18:41
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British doctor David Knott instructs surgeons in Aleppo via video link
British doctor David Knott instructs surgeons in Aleppo via video link

A British surgeon who helped Syrian doctors operate via Skype and WhatsApp fears the hacking of his computer led to a hospital being bombed.

Eminent vascular and general surgeon David Nott, who has performed surgery in various war zones, was the first to instruct doctors in Syria using the technology and footage of the 2016 operation was broadcast by the BBC’s Newsnight programme.

Weeks later, the M10 hospital in Aleppo was hit by a “bunker buster” bomb, believed to have been dropped by a Russian warplane.

The direct hit to the hospital’s operating theatre killed two patients and permanently closed the hospital.

Mr Nott believes the only way military forces could have learned the precise co-ordinates of the hospital is by hacking his computer, since its location was strictly controlled.

A hacker could have watched the BBC programme and launched a cyber attack on his computer to find where the hospital was, he said.

”The thing that gets me is that we now cannot help doctors in war zones, if somebody is watching what we are doing and blows up the hospital then that is a war crime,” he told The Telegraph.

“It is a crime against humanity that you can’t even help a doctor in another country carry out an operation.”

Newsnight journalist John Sweeney tweeted: “Did Russian/Syrian bombs target this hospital in Aleppo because of our @BBCNewsnight film with @NottFoundation? If so, a sickening act of inhumanity.”

But the BBC said In a statement: “The bombing of the M10 hospital in Aleppo was a tragedy, but we haven’t seen any evidence to suggest that the attack was linked to the Newsnight report or the many other media stories about the work of David Nott and the doctors in the hospital.

“The hospital had already been targeted many times before our report, and the suggestion of such a link remains purely speculative.”

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