An international journalistic investigation reveals astonishing details behind the so-called "Spanish air-traffic controller" story spun by the Russian propaganda media following the downing of MH17 to try to put blame on Ukraine.
"Air-traffic controller Carlos", who allegedly worked at the Boryspil airport near Kyiv and claimed via Twitter using @spainbuca account that Ukrainian warplane pursued the aircraft flight MH17 of Malaysian Airlines just before it crashed in eastern Ukraine, was identified as Jose Carlos Barrios Sanchez, according to a joint investigation by RFE/RL and RISE project (Romania).
The man is reported to have a criminal record in Spain. He had also been arrested in Romania for fraud.
As reported earlier, after the flight MH17 was shot down from the sky over Donbas, Russian propaganda media actively disseminated various conspiracy theories behind the disaster. One of them was based on Twitter posts by a "Spanish air-traffic controller", who was later even shown on the air of the Spanish branch of Russia Today TV channel a few months ahead of the tragedy.
The authors of the investigation managed to get hold of Sanchez and communicated with him via WhatsApp.
Sanchez claimed to have received a total of $48,000 from Russian sources as payment for his turn as "Carlos the Spanish Air-Traffic Controller."
The man assures that he can provide evidence that confirms connection between the Russians and a mysterious @spainbuca Twitter account, as well as banking data and recordings of his communications with Russia Today staff. However, he did not immediately provide such evidence at journalists' request. The RT denied ever making such payments.
Read alsoBellingcat: Russian Colonel General identified as key MH17 figureClaims of the "Spanish air-traffic controller" were also cited by Russian President Vladimir Putin in an interview with film director Oliver Stone: the Kremlin chief said that the MH17 crash could have been observed by an air-traffic controller of "Spanish origin" from the airport in Kyiv, who allegedly saw a combat aircraft next to the passenger jet.
UNIAN memo. All 298 people on board flight MH17 were killed when it was struck by a missile on July 17, 2014, and crashed into fields in the part of eastern Ukraine controlled by Russia's proxy forces. Two-thirds of the passengers on the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur were Dutch.
The Joint Investigation Team's preliminary report concluded that the plane was shot down by a BUK missile "controlled by pro-Russian fighters". It was also established that the Buk launcher had been brought from Russia and then hastily taken back.
The JIT conclusions have been disputed by Russia claiming that it was the Ukrainian forces who were responsible for the plane's downing.