Australian television presenter and filmmaker Max Stahl, best known for exposing a massacre in Timor-Leste, formerly East Timor and also hosting the BBC children’s TV show Blue Peter, died from cancer on Wednesday in Brisbane, Australia. He was 66. Born Christopher Wenner, Stahl changed his name in the early 1990s. Having served as the host of Blue Peter from 1978 to 1980, the news of his death was announced by his wife, Ingrid, who wrote, "The king is dead. With great sadness, I write to inform you that Max passed away this morning." 

Stahl turned to journalism in the mid-1980s and filmed the massacre of 271 protesters against Indonesian rule in Timor-Leste in 1991. The acclaimed TV presenter also tried his hand at acting and appeared in a 1984 Doctor Who adventure, The Awakening. Working as a war correspondent in Beirut to cover the Lebanon civil war in 1985, Stahl traveled to Timor-Leste in 1989 once tourism restrictions were relaxed. He also took part in a demonstration held in Dili in 1991 for the memorial service of a supporter of Timor-Leste’s independence from Indonesia. Around 200 Indonesian soldiers had opened fire at more than 2,000 peaceful protesters at the demonstration. 

Speaking to BBC in 2016, Max Stahl said, "I was just getting my camera ready when there was a wall of sound, at least 10 seconds of uninterrupted gunfire. The soldiers who arrived fired point-blank into a crowd of a couple of thousand young people." He added, "I could easily see that it was only a matter of time before they came to me, and at that point I thought, well, I should move away from here." Stahl later revealed that he buried the film in a graveyard and had to smuggle it out for broadcast, with the footage bringing to light the plight of Timor-Leste and Amnesty International eventually felicitating him with an award for his efforts. 

Timor-Leste’s former president, José Ramos-Horta, paid his tribute to Stahl and called him a "treasured son". Looking back at his coverage of the 1991 massacre, he cited, "There are only a few key points in the history of Timor-Leste where the course of our nation turned toward freedom. This was one of those points."