The newsman passed away in Dublin, Ireland, “after an illness,” the paper reported on Sunday.
Fisk was born in Kent, England, and later became an Irish citizen. Before joining The Independent, he worked for UK newspapers Sunday Express and The Times.
Fisk was acclaimed for his frontline reporting in the Middle East, where he was based in Beirut for several decades, according to his former employer. In 2005, The New York Times described him as “probably the most famous foreign correspondent in Britain.”
Fisk was known for his sharp-eyed analysis of the region and access to some of the world’s most notorious leaders. He interviewed former Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden more than once during the 1990s, describing him as “every inch the mountain warrior of mujahedin legend.”
He also once met former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
In 2016, documents released by the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence showed that bin Laden once singled out Fisk, recommending that his associates call on the correspondent to moderate some kind of special program to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
“Fisk was renowned for his courage in questioning official narratives from governments and publishing what he uncovered in frequently brilliant prose,” The Independent staff wrote in an obituary Sunday. “He joined The Independent in 1989 from The Times and rapidly became its most [recognizable] writer and searched-for byline.”
His work was not without contention. “Much of what Fisk wrote was controversial, something he appeared to [savor],” The Independent added.
As the war in Syria raged, he was widely accused of appearing sympathetic with President Bashar al-Assad, even as the Syrian dictator shelled his own citizens and killed tens of thousands, including allegedly with chemical weapons.
Many paid tribute to Fisk following the news of his death on Sunday.
“With his passing the world of journalism and informed commentary on the Middle East has lost one of its finest commentators,” Irish president Michael D. Higgins said in a statement.
Higgins said he had known Fisk since the 1990s, and had occasionally met with him in several Middle Eastern countries, including in Iraq and Lebanon, where he traveled on an official visit last year.
“Generations, not only of Irish people but all over the world, relied on him for a critical and informed view of what was taking place in the conflict zones of the world,” Higgins added. “And, even more important, the influences that were perhaps the source of the conflict.”
Christian Broughton, managing director and former editor of The Independent, hailed Fisk as “the greatest journalist of his generation.”
Fisk was “fearless, uncompromising, determined and utterly committed to uncovering the truth and reality at all costs,” he said in a statement to his newspaper. “The fire he lit at The Independent will burn on.”
— Tamara Qiblawi contributed to this report.