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White Helmets leader found dead outside his Istanbul home

James Le Mesurier, who co-founded a group of voluntary first responders in Syria nicknamed the White Helmets, has been found dead under the balcony of his apartment in Istanbul.

The former British Army officer founded the Syria Civil Defense or White Helmets in Turkey in 2013.

The group was routinely accused of spying by Russia and Syria. He was found dead a few days after the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Maria Zakharova accused Le Mesurier of being a “former agent of Britain’s MI6, who has been spotted all around the world” including the Balkans and the Middle East.

The Turkish police who are investigating the case have not released information about the cause of his death and appear to suspect foul play.

James Gustaf Edward Le Mesurier (25 May 1971 – 11 November 2019) was the British co-founder of the White Helmets, a volunteer civil defence organisation in the Syrian Civil War.

He was a former British Army Officer and previously worked with the UN Peacekeeping Force in the former Yugoslavia. He was also the director of the non-profit Mayday Rescue Foundation.

Le Mesurier was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2016 for services to the protection of civilians in Syria.