Leaked recording shows Iran knew it shot down Ukrainian plane

Thursday, 06 Feb, 2020

A leaked audio recording of an Iranian pilot talking to and air traffic control tower in Tehran appears to show that Iran knew immediately it had shot down a Ukrainian airliner last month.

The head of the Iranian investigation team, Hassan Rezaeifar, acknowledged the recording was legitimate and said that it was handed over to Ukrainian officials.

The audio file released by Ukraine's Channel One on February 2 contains a recording of the communication between an air traffic dispatcher and the captain of Aseman 3768, a commercial Iranian flight.

He emphasized that the foreign parties are duty bound to supply Iran with the means to read the Boeing plane's black box, but "they have refused to do so and we will pursue the matter".

The victims of the plane's downing included 82 Iranians, 57 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians.

Hassan Rezaifar, Head of the Air Accidents of Civil Aviation Organization of Iran, did not challenge the recording's authenticity. As a result of this being leaked to the public, Iran has today announced it will stop sharing crash data with Ukraine.

The control tower then tries unsuccessfully to contact the Ukrainian airliner.

While Ukraine and Iran initially agreed to investigate the catastrophe together, the co-operative mood quickly soured over access to the crash site and other evidence.

"He says that "it seems to me that a missile is flying", he says it in both Persian and English, everything is fixed there", Zelensky stated.

Tehran denied responsibility for three days after the attack, which happened in the wake of the United States killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.

"We will no longer provide any documents to the Ukrainians", he told Iranian news agency MEHR. "Where?" the controller asked. Zelenskiy said the Iranian government had offered $80,000 to the families of each Ukrainian victim, but that he had rejected the offer as insufficient.

Zelensky also revealed that when Ukrainians landed in Tehran, they faced hurdles that presented a frustrating landscape in which his investigators could get their work done.

The airliner was struck by a missile on January 8 shortly after it left Tehran en route to Kiev.

"Of course, human life is not measured by money, but we will push for more", Mr. Zelensky told Ukraine's 1+1 channel in an interview televised on Sunday. "There's lights like a missile".

"Flares on route, as if from a missile", the pilot reported. The firing occurred as Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on two Iraqi airbases housing us troops, intended as a response to President Donald Trump ordering an airstrike against Major General Qasem Soleimani.

Pilot: "I now see the light as it flies off of there".