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By John Helmer, Moscow 

In a new ruling read out in a Dutch courtroom yesterday, the judge presiding in the trial of allegations against the Russian state, military command and four named soldiers for shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 revealed new details of the US evidence allegedly proving that a Russian missile caused the crash. The judge, Hendrik Steenhuis, then refused to allow the lawyers representing the Russian defence to cross-examine the man from the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) who, Steenhuis now says,  signed his name to the evidence and has been sought for questioning. According to Steenhuis, questioning him would be “pointless”.

The allegation that a US satellite recorded the launch of a Russian-made BUK missile and then tracked it to detonation against MH17 on July 17, 2014, began in Washington not long after the incident. It originated with then-Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry has subsequently refused to substantiate his allegation. The US government has repeatedly refused to provide Dutch investigators of the crash with the satellite images. For the full story, read the book.

Left: Secretary of State John Kerry announced his claim to have seen US satellite images of the BUK attack on MH17 in Washington on July 20, 2014; he repeated the allegation in Australia on August 12, 2014. Centre:  the book refuting Kerry’s claim; it was published on October 1, 2020, and is available in Kindle and paperback.  Right: Dutch General Onno Eichelsheim whose military intelligence reports have contradicted Kerry’s allegations. In January of this year Eichelsheim was promoted to become chief of the Dutch Armed Forces.

There is explicit Dutch intelligence evidence available in the book that the US has been lying about what the satellite records show, and reason to believe they do not exist at all. This is because the classified US images have never been provided to the Dutch military intelligence agency MIVD which has requested them, nor to the Dutch police and prosecutors who have been trying to convict the Russians of premeditated murder in the shoot-down.

According to the MH17 trial record to date, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) in Washington sent a memorandum to MIVD in The Hague, dated August 23, 2016; this claimed to prove that a Russian-made and Russian-fired BUK (also known as SA-11A) missile destroyed the MH17 in flight above eastern Ukraine.  However, since that date in mid-2016, US officials have refused to allow the evidence of the satellite images, or the details of the secret memorandum from being repeated, tested, and verified by the Dutch investigators and judges who have been requesting the evidence for several years. Read more on Steenhuis’s court statement on this issue last month here.  

Source: http://johnhelmer.net/

The evidence from MIVD, in reports signed by the MIVD director at the time Major-General Onno Eichelsheim, was 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. Eichelsheim signed his name to this on September 21, 2016, a month after the US memorandum had been received by MIVD. In other words, Eichelsheim reported the conclusion that MIVD rejected the US conclusions and the evidence it claimed to have. For the file on Eichelsheim’s evidence, read this.

Excerpts of two reports signed by Maj-Gen Eichelsheim, September 21, 2016: click to read in full.

Seven years of attempts to cross-examine the Americans have all been rejected by the Dutch prosecutors; the secret Dutch investigating magistrate responsible for testing the evidence; and by Judge Steenhuis. Steenhuis has not acknowledged in court the contradiction between the US intelligence agency and the Dutch MIVD reports; the Dutch defence lawyers have so far failed to announce it in their case.  

In this week’s hearing on July 8, Steenhuis revealed new details from the classified US papers. Follow his remarks at the hearing record here,  Minutes 31 to 36.

According to Steenhuis, a US intelligence officer named Stolworthy signed the secret August 23, 2016, memorandum to MIVD; Stolworthy’s first name was not identified in court; it is Kenneth. According to Steenhuis, Stolworthy “is or was employed by the US authorities”. Steenhuis also described him “in his capacity of Director of National Intelligence” [Min 31:40]. “He wrote a memorandum on the 23rd of August 2016”.

Left: James Clapper; right, Kenneth Stolworthy. 

In August 2016 US Air Force general James Clapper was the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). He had been in the post since 2010; he remained there until November 2016, when he announced he would resign when Donald Trump became president. A search of DNI releases and internet name checks has failed to identify Stolworthy at the ODNI or as the author of the secret memorandum to the Dutch. The ODNI lists no spokesman or email address to verify Stolworthy’s position at the office in 2016; the press office telephone number is answered by a tape-recorder. His rank and official authority at ODNI have also not been corroborated by the Dutch court.  US records show that in 1992 he was a uniformed Army officer;  in 2000 he was a section officer at the US Joint Chiefs of Staff; in 2017 he was head of the “Russia Strategic Initiative” at the Department of the Army;  in 2019 he was attached to the US Strategic Command;  in 2020 he was a combat planning officer at the US European Command  sponsoring a RAND study on war strategy against Russia.   

Steenhuis read out secret excerpts from Stolworthy which have not been revealed publicly before. According to Steenhuis, Stolworthy claimed to have had “access” to “all classified and all relevant non-classified information” about the shoot-down. “I declare,” Stolworthy reportedly wrote, that the information he had “access[ed]” “reflects the American intelligence community’s considered opinion” [Min 32:08].

Stolworthy also told the Dutch that before the August 2016 date on his paper, “the United States of America have furnished the Dutch military security service MIVD with a detailed classified investigation regarding the downing of the plane” [Min 32:21].  In that “investigation”, Stolworthy said MIVD had been provided with a “summary of all the classified information before it” and “classified information which supports its conclusions” [Min 32:36].

Reading from the Stolworthy document, Steenhuis revealed for the first time, not only that no satellite images were made available to Dutch intelligence, but also that instead of these images, a US intelligence “summary” and a “considered opinion” were substituted; these provided material regarding “events on the ground at the [alleged] crash site [which] clearly show that separatists were in full control of that alleged missile launch] territory” [Min 33:03]. This DNI intelligence was not from satellite imagery at all; it may have originated from the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) audio and video tapes which are known to have been fabricated. Stolworthy’s paper did not tell the Dutch what the source was for the “classified information which supports [the US] conclusions”.

According to Stolworthy, “Russian led separatist fighters and Russian military personnel or a combination of the two were operating the SA-11A [BUK]” [Min 33:20].  Stolworthy is also quoted by the judge as saying the BUK missile “almost certainly came from Russia” [Min 33:26].

For the first time the Dutch court has revealed the name of the only US official, in addition to Secretary of State Kerry,  to have claimed to see satellite imagery of the missile shoot-down of MH17. At the same time, Steenhuis’s ruling has exposed Stolworthy as making claims about the “summary” of evidence,  “conclusions”, “considered opinion”,  and the “almost certainly” qualifier,  all of which MIVD officially refused to accept in 2016 or believes today.  

Instead, the Stolworthy memorandum read out in court is a retreat from US satellite evidence to Ukrainian SBU evidence. No less, no more.

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