A third whistle-blower has come forward to corroborate the previous complaints that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) tried to suppress evidence-gathering in the Douma probe, a report says.
The alleged new whistleblower, whose redacted email was shared by the Grayzone Project on Tuesday, backed the complaints made by two former OPCW employees — South African engineer and organization’s veteran Ian Henderson, and another whistleblower known as ‘Alex.’
OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias had earlier dismissed the pair — dubbed Inspector A and Inspector B in the organization’s inquiry into their claims — as low-level rogue employees who conducted field work without proper authorization and which simply “could not accept that their views were not backed by evidence.”
However, the person, described by Grayzone as a former senior official with the OPCW, stood by Henderson and ‘Alex,’ writing that his time with the organization was “the most stressful and unpleasant” one in his life.
I feel ashamed for the Organization and I am glad I left it.
“I fear those behind the crimes that have been perpetrated in the name of ‘humanity and democracy,’ they will not hesitate to do harm to me and my family,” the person wrote, explaining the decision to remain anonymous.
Henderson was deployed with the fact-finding mission to Syria shortly after the alleged chemical attack in Douma. The inspector concluded that the cylinders, supposedly containing chlorine, were more likely manually placed on the ground rather than dropped from planes. According to him, the higher-ups discarded his findings without explanation, and sidelined him from the rest of the mission. Its final report was later used by the US and some European countries to implicate the Syrian government of Bashar Assad in conducting the attack, which the Syrian authorities vehemently deny.
The Grayzone published what they say is a written copy of Henderson’s testimony at the UN in January this year.
According to the document, two senior fact-finding mission (FFM) officials refused to formally accept Henderson’s engineering report on Douma upon its completion. The inspector unlimitedly submitted the report to OPCW’s secure archive himself. But the Chief of OPCW Director-General’s Cabinet instructed Henderson in an email to “remove the document from the Registry, and remove all traces, if any, of its delivery and storage there,” Henderson’s testimony reads.
In his alleged testimony, Henderson also refuted the claim that he was a low-level employee by pointing out that he served as “inspector/team leader,” up until he was suspended in mid-May 2019. Grayzone, meanwhile, noted that an official OPCW report from February 2018 described Henderson as an “OPCW Inspection Team Leader” just two before his deployment to Douma.
This was also corroborated in an email, published by WikiLeaks, in which a person believed to be Henderson’s colleague claimed that it was “falsehood” that “Ian did not form part of the Douma FFM team,” and accused the OPCW of “discrediting” the whistleblower’s work.
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