Mavroleon, a freelance television producer and cameraman on assignment for the CBS news program “60 Minutes,” was found dead in a hotel room in Peshawar of an apparent drug overdose, according to Pakistani officials. Though the government of Pakistan concluded that the cause of death was “heroin poisoning (self),” some colleagues and family members believe Mavroleon may have been killed for his journalistic work.
Mavroleon had arrived in Peshawar on August 23 on assignment to film damage from the recent U.S. cruise missile attacks on the Afghan border town of Khost, about 180 miles to the southwest. The U.S. intended to hit training camps run by Osama bin Laden, whom Washington had identified as the suspected mastermind behind the August 7 attacks on U.S. embassies in eastern Africa.
On August 25, Mavroleon was detained and jailed overnight in Miranshah, a town in North Waziristan on the Afghan border. After being interrogated by Pakistani agents from the Intelligence Bureau and Inter-Services Intelligence, he was released on the afternoon of August 26 and sent back to Peshawar by bus.
In phone messages to a “60 Minutes” producer on August 25, Mavroleon had said he was “in terrible trouble” and that “they’re on to me in a big way.”
On the morning of August 27, Mavroleon met with Peter Jouvenal, a British cameraman and old friend, and Rahimullah Yusufzai, Peshawar bureau chief for the Pakistani daily The News. They joked about a report on Mavroleon’s arrest that had appeared in the Urdu-language press labeling the journalist a “spy.”
They were among the last people to see him alive.
Mavroleon died of “asphyxia due to heroin (diacetyl morphine) intoxication” at around 6 p.m. that evening, according to the official autopsy report.