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Jon Swain

Jon (John) Anketell Brewer Swain is an award-winning British journalist and writer who was portrayed by Julian Sands in the 1984 Oscar-winning film The Killing Fields.

He was born in London, England in 1948. After an unhappy education at Blundell's School in Devonshire, from which he was expelled, he ran away to join the French Foreign Legion an experience that he briefly recounts in his 1997 memoir River of Time.

Having escaped from the clutches of the Foreign Legion through the influence of his godfather who was a close friend of the French ambassador to the Court of St James, Swain embarked upon a career as a newspaperman.

Early jobs included his workmanlike coverage of the trial of the infamous Kray crime family. After a period of work in Continental Europe Swain embarked for Saigon in the late 1960s to cover the Vietnam War.

In 1975 Swain caught the last commercial flight into Phnom Penh, the beleaguered capital of the Kingdom of Cambodia. It was there that he witnessed the fall of the city to the Maoist Khmer Rouge in the company of Dith Pran and Sydney Schanberg - events portrayed in the Roland Joffé film The Killing Fields.

Saved from murder by the courage of Pran, Swain, Pran, and Schanberg took refuge in Phnom Penh's French Embassy. There they tried unsuccessfully to rescue Pran by doctoring Swain's British passport so that it appeared to be Pran's.

Having escaped back to Europe Swain's next brush with death occurred when he was kidnapped and held hostage for several months by Eritrean Separatists whilst covering the revolution and civil war in Ethiopia. For his accounts of this and his Cambodian experiences Swain received numerous awards.

For many years Swain was the Sunday Times's correspondent in Paris. During this time he had many famous scoops including uncovering the financial support extended by Libya's Colonel Gaddafi's to Arthur Scargill's National Union of Mineworkers and the links between Jean-Marie Le Pen's Front National and the Romanian dictatorship of Nicolae Ceauşescu.

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