A leaked audio recording from January 8, the day that Iran shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane, reportedly shows that Iran immediately knew that it had shot down the plane.
The revelation was made on a Ukrainian television station on Sunday night when an audio recording of a “pilot of another plane can be heard saying he saw ‘the light of a missile’ in the sky before Ukrainian International Airways flight 752 crashed in an explosion,” Reuters reported.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that the audio proved “that the Iranian side knew from the start that our plane had been hit by a missile.”
Reuters added that Iran, which falsely denied responsibility for three days, blamed Ukraine for the release of the audio file which it reportedly described as “confidential evidence.”
Iran also indicated that it would no longer share evidence with Ukraine regarding the crash.
Reuters also noted that Ukraine International Airways said in a statement that the recording provided “yet more proof that the UIA airplane was shot down with a missile, and there were no restrictions or warnings from dispatchers of any risk to flights of civilian aircraft in the vicinity of the airport.”
Suspicions around what led to the crash went mainstream after photographs from the crash site showed bulldozers destroying the scene of the crash.
“Iran has used bulldozers to clear away debris at the site of Ukrainian airliner crash, potentially destroying evidence as Tehran continues to deny Western allegations that one of its own missiles downed the jet, killing all 176 people on board,” The Times of Israel reported. “Photos from the site show at least one bulldozer clearing away wreckage and Giancarlo Fiorella of Bellingcat, a journalism website that focuses on fact-finding, said the group had verified pictures of other bulldozers at work at the scene, calling it ‘distressing.’”
Fiorella told a British news station: “It’s distressing, this is a potential crime scene, if this was a shoot down you don’t want to disturb the crash site before a thorough investigation has taken place. The presence of heavy machinery, the bulldozing of the wreckage is very distressing.”
Immediately following the crash, Iran said that it would not turn over the black box from the plane to Boeing, but instead would give it to one of its allies.
Several days after falsely denying responsibility, Iran admitted that it shot down the plane but blamed the United States for its actions.
“It is unfortunate that the psychological operation of the US government and those supporting it are adding insult to the injury of the bereaved families and victimising them for certain goals by propagating such fallacies,” Iranian Government spokesman Ali Rabiei said. “No one will assume responsibility for such a big lie once it is known that the claim had been fraudulent.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter: “A sad day. Preliminary conclusions of internal investigation by Armed Forces: Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster. Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to the families of all victims, and to other affected nations.”
Iran’s talking points on the crash closely aligned with the talking points of some Democrats.
Democrat presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg responded by saying, “Innocent civilians are now dead because they were caught in the middle of an unnecessary and unwanted military tit for tat. My thoughts are with the families and loved ones of all 176 souls lost aboard this flight.”
Democrat Rep. Jackie Speier (CA) said, “This is yet another example of collateral damage from the actions that have been taken in a provocative way by the president of the United States.”