New MH17 Leak – Dutch Prosecutors Have Received No US Satellite Evidence of the Shoot-Down by a Buk Missile

Yves here. Helmer is still keeping tabs on MH17 developments.

By John Helmer, Moscow. Twitter: @bears_with. Originally published at Dances With Bears

A new document, leaked from the files of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in The Netherlands,  reveals that Dutch prosecutors told the Australian, Belgian and Ukrainian representatives on the team, that the US Government had not presented any satellite evidence of a BUK missile firing at Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. The aircraft was destroyed above eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people on board.

“We haven’t received anything from them”, one of the Dutch officials told the JIT, according to minutes of a meeting of JIT leaders on December 4, 2015.  There were eight  officials recorded at the meeting, four of them Dutch, two Belgians, one Australian,  and one Ukrainian. The Malaysian Government, which is also a member of the JIT but refuses to endorse the Dutch allegations of Russian culpability in the shootdown, was reported to be absent from the  JIT meeting recorded on February 12, 2016. The leaked document claims the Dutch had made “unsuccessful attempts to connect both with Royal Malaysia Police and Malaysia Attorney-General’s Office.”

The meeting was held at Dutch National Police Central Crime Unit at Driebergen. The Ukrainian official participated by video link to the Ukrainian Embassy in The Hague.

“We should receive the official report from Dutch Military [Intelligence] on U.S. data by mid-March [2016),” the JIT officials agreed. “Then we can determine future actions.”

The disclosure of their classified meeting record took place at a public briefing in London this week by Max van der Werff and Yana Yerlashova, the Bonanza Media partners in a long-running independent investigation of the MH17 crash.

The document provides evidence directly contradicting US Secretary of State John Kerry. He announced on July 20 and August 12, 2014, that he had seen US satellite imagery of the attack on the MH17 flight – the launch of a ground-based missile, its flight, and then detonation beside the civilian aircraft in flight.  “We picked up the imagery of this launch,” Kerry announced on NBC television just three days after the crash. “We know the trajectory. We know where it came from. We know the timing….And it was exactly at the time that this aircraft [MH17] disappeared from the radar.”  US officials have been unable to substantiate this in public or in the Dutch proceedings.

The leaked document also reveals that by February 12, 2016, no US satellite data had been handed over to the JIT. Seven months later, on September 21, 2016 – another leak from JIT files revealed last week — the head of the Dutch military intelligence agency MIVD, Major-General Onno Eichelsheim,  reported to the Dutch prosecutors that the US and NATO satellite data shown to his agency revealed that no Russian BUK missile radar and launch units had crossed the border into Ukraine before or on July 17, 2014; no BUK missile radar targeting or firing on MH17 had been detected; and no identified Russian units on the Russian side of the border had launched missiles.”

The JIT meetings reported in the leaked documents were regular sessions of the individual section officers in charge of different elements of the JIT investigation. They were led by Maartje Nieuwenhuis from the Dutch National Prosecutor’s Office, and Gerrit Thiry, a veteran Dutch police investigator. At least once before Thiry has attempted to suppress independent media reporting of the evidence the JIT has been gathering.

Read the document release by van der Werff and Yerlashova here.

The new leak reveals the JIT was afraid of the press, and agreed to thwart questioning. “We expect pressure on providing new information”, the JIT record noted. “As a result of the misunderstanding in [Dutch] Parliament by media, journalists have been approaching the Australian Embassy [The Hague] directly asking about radar data issues. Embassy staff have been provided a standard response regarding AFP’s [Australian Federal Police] active participation in the JIT and subsequent inappropriateness to comment further.”

The Belgian representative at the meeting said: “Belgium isn’t experiencing issues with media attention.” The Ukrainian representative added: “They [Kiev] are not experiencing any media issues. The Minister of Foreign Affairs addressed the situation and there are no issues anymore.”

Thiry has told the press there has been transparency in his investigation. “We’ve made some 80 international requests for mutual legal assistance. There’s nothing to complain about when it comes to cooperation in this area. Russia has always given us answers, even though they weren’t always exactly what we wanted and not always in the right format. We have to assess the value of everything we’re given – testimonials, photographs, audio, etc. – on the basis of an independent source.’” Thiry has said nothing about the failure of the US satellite data now revealed in the JIT record.

The record also reveals corruption among the Dutch police with access to the evidence gathered from the crash site in eastern Ukraine. According to the JIT meeting minute for December 4, 2015, “the Dutch Police officer selling MH17 memorabilia has confessed after being arrested and has been disciplined via Dutch internal policing processes.”

More troubling, Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers working in the JIT have said privately, is suspicion of tampering with evidence and faking by the Ukrainians. According to the newly released record, the Dutch requested the Australian and Malaysian police to “write a report which describes as best as possible the chain of custody for the 20cm piece of wreckage (W) found in between personal belongings. Request Australia and Malaysia attempt to establish the identity of the person who found W and see if they remember locating it and why it was placed in Box 2 with personal belongings (the piece wasn’t embedded in anything). W arrived by truck in Box 2 from Kharkiv. No Netherlands staff can recall locating W or placing it in Box 2.”

Without strict chain of custody, the AFP has conceded that allegations by Dutch and Australian politicians, and evidence presented to the media by the Dutch, may be inadmissible in the court trial, which opens next week in The Hague. The  presentation in London by van der Werff and Yerlashova on Tuesday ran for just over two hours; excerpts of the new documents were presented and discussed at Minute 1:27:00. The five-page record of the December 2015 and February 2016 JIT meetings was drafted in English by an Australian police notetaker. For the full record, read Bonanza Leaks.

Max van der Werff and Yana Yerlashova. Source:

It is now certain that fifteen months after US Secretary of State John Kerry claimed there was US satellite evidence of direct Russian involvement in the shootdown, and after Dutch and Australian leaders repeated the claim,  the JIT did not have the evidence. On July 20, 2014 Kerry had announced: “We picked up the imagery of this launch. We know the trajectory,” he told the NBC Meet the Press programme. “We know where it came from. We know the timing….And it was exactly at the time that this aircraft disappeared from the radar. We also know, from voice identification, that the separatists were bragging about shooting it down afterwards.”

The audio tapes, to which Kerry was referring, have subsequently been proved by Malaysian and German investigations, and by reporting by van der Werff and Yerlashova, to have been Ukrainian fabrications. Fresh technical evidence was presented by Akash Rosen at the Bonanza Media briefing in London this week.  Minute 44: 47.

On August 12, 2014, Kerry repeated his satellite evidence claim.  “US Secretary of State John Kerry revealed yesterday the Americans then saw the airline vanish from sight. It had 298 passengers and crew aboard including 38 Australian citizens and residents. ‘This type of weapon, all the evidence of it was seen on our imagery,’ Mr Kerry said after the annual AUSMIN [Australia-US Ministerial Consultations] summit. ‘We saw the take-off. We saw the trajectory, we saw the hit. We saw this aeroplane disappear from the radar screens. So there is really no mystery about where it came from and where these weapons have come from.’”

Left, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop briefing the press with Secretary of State John Kerry in Sydney, August 2014.

Kerry was lying; the Australians repeated the lie. The communiqué issued after their meeting wasn’t as incautious: “Both countries condemned Russia’s support for and enabling of the continued destabilisation of eastern Ukraine; destabilisation which led [sic] to the shooting down of a passenger airliner, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, killing all 298 on board.”

Kerry was cautious himself in March 2016, when he received a letter from Thomas Schansman, father of Quinn Schansman, one of the victims on board MH17 and a dual US-Dutch citizen.   Schansman had written to Kerry, requesting he confirm what satellite and radar data the US held. Kerry’s reply was evasive.

Schansman was hoping for the US evidence to support an American court lawsuit he had filed for compensation for his son’s death against two Russian state banks.  Schansman later told Robert Parry, a US reporter: “the message is clear: no answer on my request to hand over satellite and/or radar data to DSB [Dutch Safety Board] or public.” “This investigative work is not easy”, Kerry had wound up his letter to Schansman on March 7, 2016.


The JIT record now reveals that Kerry and the US Government were doing everything they could to prevent the “investigative work” reaching the conclusion there was no satellite evidence to substantiate the US allegations.


These records show that at their meeting on February 12, 2016, the JIT officials agreed that the “requested information” identified in the December 4, 2015, meeting and including the US satellite data, was “yet to be completed.”

Instead, the only civilian satellite evidence which the JIT later said it has used, comes from the European Space Agency.  In the JIT report of September  28, 2016, the Dutch said “the European Space Agency (ESA) has aided the investigation team extensively in the search for relevant images from satellites. This has shown to be of great value: Not only did ESA obtain images of all relevant civilian satellites, but they also have experts who have assessed these images. The conclusions drawn by ESA confirm the conclusions of the investigation team with regard to the launch site.”

Note that the JIT refers here to civilian satellites.

The leak last month from the JIT files of two reports from MIVD, the Dutch military intelligence agency, both dated September 21, 2016,  has identified US and NATO military satelite intelligence (“partner informatie”) as the source for MIVD’s conclusions that no Russian BUK missile radar and launch units had crossed the border into Ukraine before or on July 17, 2014; no BUK missile radar targeting or firing on MH17 had been detected; and no identified Russian units on the Russian side of the border had launched missiles. Read more.


General Eichelsheim put his signature to these MIVD findings on September 21, 2016. The earlier JIT meeting record confirms the agreement between the Australians and Dutch that when they had Eichelsheim’s report of the US evidence,  it would be transmitted to the JIT; and also that Eichelsheim or one of his MIVD officers would testify for the Dutch prosecution in court:


On September 28, 2016, Fred Westerbeke, the chief Dutch prosecutor in charge of the JIT, made this announcement one week after Eichelsheim’s reports had been received.  A journalist from the US-funded Radio Svoboda asked him (in Dutch) for “a clear answer as to whether the satellite images from the Americans were used or not…as I was unable to distill that from your presentation.”

Source:– commencing at Min.1:03:41.

Westerbeke answered: “What we have said is we have gotten access from the Americans to all relevant material they have available and that it contains a significant portion of state secrets. We were given access to the material through the MIVD and through a special officer of the district prosecutor’s office. In combination with that we have received a report from the US with conclusions based on that material. We can use that report in a criminal case, it is a part of the case and therefore constitutes evidence. Especially in combination with the possibility that the officer who has seen the underlying material can make a statement. It remains a state secret and is therefore not declassified, but we can now fully use it in the research.”

Because the Dutch Criminal Code makes evidence given in secret inadmissible for a criminal prosecution, Westerbeke added: “As far as the question about the state of confidential information is concerned, it will be some kind of a legal response, it is also a bit complicated… It can be used as evidence, but in an indirect way, the way it has been agreed on for now. Namely, through a statement that will be given by the national officer anti-terrorism. The latter can then declare in court. However, that does not mean that the underlying material becomes available for the court itself or for the legal defense of any suspects”   – Minute 1:15:47.

In his analysis of the JIT presentation van der Werff commented in April of 2017: “The circle can be closed this way. The United States in the background determines  what evidence will or will not be used and which material remains unverifiable for third parties, lawyers of the suspects and even for the judges.”

The JIT and MIVD files now show that Westerbeke was lying in public. With access to those files from the beginning, the Australian police working at the JIT had reason for the skepticism they revealed in private at many of Westerbeke’s public claims. Last December Westerbeke was  removed from the JIT, and appointed chief of police at Rotterdam. It is not clear whether that’s a penalty for his performance at JIT or a benefit for the criminal prosecutors in the courts of Rotterdam. “This step is good news for the Rotterdam region,” announced the city mayor. “He is the right man in the right place to tackle the security issues in this region.”

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  1. Norm de plume

    I am halfway thru an early Bergman called The Magician. A character reads from a book:

    ‘Deception is so prevalent that those who speak the truth are usually branded as the greatest liars’

    1. Patrick

      It feels like the author is splitting some verbal hairs. I think it plausible that Kerry has seen the images but that the US government is reticent and bureaucratic; which is slowing the process of releasing the data to international partners

      1. Tobin Paz

        Who knew that it was reticence and bureaucracy that has kept the US government from releasing evidence of Iraq’s WMD.

      2. km

        We’ve only had, what, five years to release those images.

        And satellite imagery has only been around for fifty years, so it’s not like we can’t let the wily russkies know that we have satellites that can actually take photos!

        1. Bill Smith

          It would have been SIGNIT and infrared data. Similar to what was used to figure out that Iran accidently shot down that airliner.

  2. Chris Herbert

    A caution. Yerlashova is a Russian documentary producer so this article may not be all reliable information. As a print reporter I covered a number of murder trials. Some courts are difficult to maneuver. Evidence can and often is, disallowed. Defense of an accused murderer oftentimes uses information that points to ‘someone else’ as the culprit. Even flimsy evidence can be allowed in. Anything that might make a jury less certain is allowed in, I’ve found. Not so much for the prosecutor, however. It gets a little bizarre at times, believe me. National intelligence agencies are notoriously not very forthcoming. This article does not convince me. Saying the US hasn’t provided satellite or radar intelligence is a given. Revealing capabilities is not in the intelligence agency DNA, after all. You don’t trust them? The response is ‘Duly noted. Now I have other things to do.’

    1. Donald

      So in other words, you aren’t convinced the intelligence agencies and governments are lying because intelligence agencies are never forthcoming and people lie.

      You seem to have things a little muddled. The point is that we are expected to trust these intelligence agencies and governments based on no evidence except their word.

      1. timbers

        I am far less kind than you regarding these public officials and same intelligence agencies which – to paraphrase a line in Witness For The Prescription – “have by their own admission already told so many lies, I’m surprised the testestament does not LEAP from their hand!”

      2. pjay

        Actually, we do have a lot of evidence – of their lying to us over and over again — in the past. It just usually takes a while to leak out. Then the media, and the “adults in the room” who understand the “real world,” promptly forget these history lessons and pat us “conspiracy theorists” on the head condescendingly the next time we doubt our national intelligence protectors.

        And, of course, the reliability of a *Russian* documentary producer must be questioned.


        1. chris moffatt

          as soon as they finish faking it. Up to now they didn’t think it would actually be required. And of course John Kerry would never lie. – would he?

    2. diptherio

      Wow, you think that poor reasoning is gonna fly around here?

      Yerlashova is a Russian documentary producer so this article may not be all reliable information.

      You want to explain why the nationality of the reporter should discredit them…or even “may” discredit them? Go, on, explain it to me.

      Revealing capabilities is not in the intelligence agency DNA

      “Revealing capabilities”? Because no one knows we have spy satellites and spy planes? What are you even talking about? Like the CIA doesn’t know how to redact?

      1. paul

        Revealing capabilities is not in the intelligence agency DNA

        That suggests the ‘intelligence’ agency is a living, self replicating organism compelled to survive at all costs.

        Which is a fair enough description.

  3. Adrian D.

    Reminds me very much of the satelite information that the US claimed to have regarding the 2017 alleged chemical weapons attack on Khan Sheikhoun which were reported in very low-resolution format on (iirc) NBC news, but which were then not passed on in more detailed form to the Joint Investigatory Mechanism (JIM) of the OPCW.

    The JIM themselves instead focussed on another radar track, that they had been given which may or may not have been provided to them by the US as it’s hard to say from the strange formulation of words they used in that section of their report. Whether or not the JIM requested more detailed traces is unclear – although though most definitely should have done.

    As usual any unevidenced claims of the US in such matters should be treated with the utmost scepticism – or better still, simply rejected out of hand.

  4. Michael Hudson

    This is not a “new” leak, Yves. From the very beginning the Russians were insisting on getting this information.
    The Dutch are holding court basically as a branch of the Defense Dept and CIA in this. They included Ukraine as a key complainant, and gave it complete veto power over what evidence would be submitted. Ukraine has blocked any inquiry into its own evidence, and blocked any Russian participation from the beginning.
    The whole affair has been a kangaroo court. Johnson’s Russia List has been providing details on this through the years. (I have a giant file on it.)

    1. Tinky

      Thank you, Michael.

      The fact that anyone would believe the U.S. account at this stage underscores yet again the power of propaganda.

      1. Trent

        over the last 12 years the lies have been non stop, which makes you wonder what other lies you were told when you still believed?

    2. Pym of Nantucket

      My liar’s better than your liar,
      My liar’s better than yours,
      His name is Kerry,
      And he had puppies (working for the Ukraine),
      My liar’s better than yours

  5. The Rev Kev

    The problem with the investigation of the Mh17 crash is, like the Skripal investigation, the pack of dogs that never barked. The Netherlands at the moment is going full neocon and just today their Foreign Minister was demanding a no-fly zone which is a quick way to get into a shooting war with the Russians so I have doubts about the “integrity” of their investigation. Kerry was claiming that they had satellite images of the shoot-down and I believe him. I remember that the US had just sent up a spy satellite over the Ukraine to keep close watch on developments and it may have been this satellite that took the images. What I believed happened then is that some analyst realized that the missile came from Ukrainian-occupied territory which was why this evidence was deep-sixed.

    And of course the evidence was contaminated at the scene of the crash. Investigators could not get into that crash site as the Ukrainians were hitting the crash-site with their artillery when you reckon that they would not want to contaminate the surviving pieces of the aircraft with shrapnel holes. But I do believe that the Donbass troops photographed the site and all the remaining bit of the aircraft so that when they were removed, that they would not be “modified”. There is no possible way in the world that this case would survive an honest court. I still do not believe that the Ukrainian Civilian radar records have ever surfaced after the Ukrainian secret service seized them straight after that plane crashed. Just too many dogs not barking here.

    1. RBHoughton

      Thank you Rev and also Michael Hudson for his earlier comment.

      Another dodgy bit of Western news that is slowly falling apart – thank heavens for the upright people in Oz (the coroner’s office), Netherlands, and Ukraine who know something of the matter and are unwilling to join the conspiracy – well done – and those on this blog who have added their doubts and fears to the record. Particular kudos to Bonanza Media partners for keeping hope alive amongst the relatives of 300 victims whose tragedy is the last thing on political minds.

      Shame on the Ukrainian Government for continuing to pretend ignorance of this atrocity, and shame on the Dutch and US governments generally for the tired plea of state secrecy. Killing people is wrong – you officials should not be conspiring to protect the murderers. Hard luck Rotterdam – you’ve got an ‘anything goes’ cop in charge of criminal investigation. Time for a crime spree.

  6. L

    This may seem a minor point but Kerry’s statements about seeing satellite data is not contradicted by the minutes presented. He said he saw it. They said that they don’t have it. Both things can be true.

    1. McKillop

      Aye, both statements can be interpreted as ‘true’. Equivocation and obfuscation have been used by most everyone from children to loving parents to patients suffering from chronic illness. Masters at the game – or those they hire to come up with wording that makes it so “Both statements can be true” are impolitely called liars despite their social positions.
      In mythology, the Father of Lies, from what I understand, makes politicians in all walks of life, pikers.

  7. Eugene

    Wasn’t there also a report that was available that Putin was returning to Russia from the EU about the same time, but diverted to another route? MH17 being on the same route, but didn’t divert, was shot down in the mistaken identification that it was the one Putin was on?

  8. L

    I don’t get your response at all.

    The article claimed that the statements were contradictory. They are not. Neither are they particularly equivocal.

    At worst Kerry lied, still possible but not proven by this. At best he has evidence he is not sharing. Neither one is good. But that is not the same as contradiction. If we want to be clear and honest it would do well to hold our own arguments to that standard.

      1. McKillop

        Perhaps I misunderstood your comment that “Both statements can be true” by focusing on the general rather than the specific,
        You are right, Kerry did not contradict himself. Kerry made his comments three days after the murders of the passengers and crew on the airliner. Since then, and even in Kerry’s absence from the scene, others have made concerted efforts to equivocate and obfuscate so that the Russians are held responsible, at least in ‘part’, for the deaths. Kerry implied by his initial comments, the the Russians had nefariously supplied the buc missile system to the separatists who reportedly has the poor grace to brag about the murders. His claims that there was imagery showing the event, juxtaposed, were equivocal in implying that the Russians played a major role.
        After, he made other comments, (cited in the article) then the corporate media got into it. and expectations of an investigation in which the U.S. A.’s ‘imagery evidence’ were created.
        From what I know, no actual promises about the imagery were made, so on that issue, Kerry did not”contradict” himself.
        Here’s my rub. Events occur, agency is denied or attributed to others. Promises are made to discover the truth and then the obfuscations, equivocations, lies and denials begin, And sometimes a ‘minor point’ regarding true statements distract us from actions that contradict promises implied.

  9. David

    As often with Helmer the argument is not very clear, and, whilst it’s evident that the US haven’t handed the imagery over, it’s not evident that there’s a dark conspiracy going on.
    I suspect what happened was this. It’s publicly known that the US has a network of IR satellites which are intended to detect missile launches. Whoever launched the missile, and from wherever, it’s thus perfectly possible that the US has imagery of it. What is unknown to the public is how good and precise that imagery is, and what it reveals, as opposed to just suggests. The State Department does not control this system: as far as I known it’s the DoD. Given the usual rivalries and disorganisation of the Washington security bureaucracy, it’s quite likely that the State Department received a partial or garbled version of the story, and that Kerry rushed out with it to be the first to break the news and get one over the Pentagon. Kerry (who was not very impressive in his job, frankly) probably didn’t know, or chose to overlook, all the problems of using intelligence indicators to prove anything, as opposed to just giving you a general idea of what’s going on. It could be, for example, that the imagery was consistent with the missile being fired from an area controlled by separatists, but didn’t by itself demonstrate that that’s what happened. The voice intercepts that Kerry claimed supported his argument may not mean very much out of context. And so on. Some poor harassed analyst may have said something like “our best assessment is that the separatists were responsible but we can’t prove it”, which would have been seized on by the political leadership which, in all countries, is impatient with, and often ignorant of, the careful qualifications of experts (think the Coronavirus for example). Cue general embarrassment when serious questions start to be asked.
    In any event, there’s now a long and well-established history of the problems of trying to use intelligence information to prove things in public.If you actually look at what’s been published, it’s often too fragmentary to help much unless you know a lot of context, and even then you’re limited in what you can say because you don’t want to give sources and methods away. (“Yes, well, we have a good source who’s the number two in the separatist military hierarchy actually, his name is …”)
    In short, a lesson in not engaging your mouth until your brain is in gear.

    1. pjay

      Ah yes. The old “incompetence” response. I’m sure Kerry (and everybody else!) was simply stating the Truth as he saw it. Darn those bureaucratic rivalries, messing up our understanding of events! The fact that this happened to be a central claim in a massive anti-Russian propaganda war corresponding to our active destabilization of Ukraine was pure coincidence, I’m sure.

      And yes, this is sarcasm — as much as I can muster!

      1. David

        Well, if I were an evil cartoon villain in Washington, I wouldn’t choose to lie about something that could be so easily disproved. On the other hand, if I were a not very competent politician looking for some ammunition to use against Russia and not really caring where it came from, I’d grab something like this on the basis that it looked good, and by the time the story started to come apart, if it ever did, I’d be gone. There’s no reason to suppose Kerry was consciously lying (it would have been stupid of him to do so) and indeed these sorts of blanket assumptions about evil governments are dangerous and counter-productive. (I learned just today the the Coronavirus was probably a US biological weapon: after all, cut bono is a foolproof argument, and the timing can’t be a coincidence, can it?).
        It may be of course, that you have many years of inside experience of the national security bureaucracy in Washington, in which case please feel free to share it with us. Otherwise, I’d stay off sarcasm.

        1. pjay

          “It may be of course, that you have many years of inside experience of the national security bureaucracy in Washington, in which case please feel free to share it with us. Otherwise, I’d stay off sarcasm.”

          LOL. Thank you for the pat on the head (see my first comment from this morning).

          I spent half an hour responding to your main points here. Then I hit the wrong button and deleted it. Probably just as well. I don’t have the energy to reconstruct it, so hopefully someone else can respond.

  10. witters

    “Well, if I were an evil cartoon villain in Washington, I wouldn’t choose to lie about something that could be so easily disproved.”

    What a remarkable statement. And why is it all about you?

  11. anon in so cal

    Thanks for posting this. The US permanent war state and the complicit MSM have swept up so many into their alternative reality. Takes courage to chip away at the lies.

Comments are closed.