ER Editor: Our thanks to Dutch journalist Michel van der Kemp for alerting us to the following piece by Eric van de Beek on the Bellingcat organisation, and for his introduction.
Bellingcat has had one British citizen, Ellliot Higgins, at its helm since its inception. It’s been outed before as, or at least suspected of being, a front for British overseas intelligence (MI6). This topic is dealt with below. MI6 is just one paymaster, however.
Fast forward to the conflict in Ukraine this year. Below, van de Beek relays reporting by outlet RT where the Russians had deliberately put forward at least one pilot to go along with an MI6 / Ukraine intelligence services ‘trap’ whereby Russian pilots would be paid to defect with a million euros providing they surrendered their plane to the Ukrainians first. This is confirmed in audio recordings and corroborated by a Bellingcat operative and documentary film maker, one Christo Grozev. Globalist, bought-and-paid-for Dutch media is naturally playing right along.
MICHEL VAN DER KEMP
Bellingcat is an investigative journalism group specializing in fact-checking and open-source intelligence. The first version of their platform came online on July 14th 2014. Three days later, flight MH17 was shot down near the eastern Russia-Ukraine border, presumably by a Russian BUK missile (the problematic nature of the BUK scenario was outlined in a March 2022 Europe Reloaded article – See Remember the MH17 Crash in Eastern Ukraine in 2014? The Show Trial Continues …). On board were 298 people, including 15 crew members; none survived. Following the downing of MH17, Bellingcat became one of the trusted investigative news sources, often quoted in mainstream media. So much so that in 2018 a documentary saw the light of day under the name “Bellingcat: Truth in a Post-Truth World”.
How did this new organisation become ‘trustworthy’ so quickly? And how did they get their hands on information that seemed out of reach of just open-source intelligence? And why is Bellingcat funded by George Soros’ Open Source Foundation, and the Nederlandse Postcode Loterij (Dutch Postcode Lottery), two deeply globalist organizations?
Dutch journalist Eric van de Beek gives some answers to such questions. He paints a completely different picture of the trustworthy Bellingcat group.
Bellingcat participates in Ukrainian plane hijacking
Eric van de Beek
Investigative collective Bellingcat has been involved in a failed attempt by Ukrainian military intelligence to get Russian fighter pilots to defect to the enemy, plane and all. Bellingcat figurehead Christo Grozev, a welcome guest on Dutch current affairs programs, has confirmed reports in the Russian media.
Is the Netherlands-based Bellingcat Foundation the independent journalistic research collective as it is always presented in the media? Or is it really a project of Western intelligence services? That question is once again topical, now that Bellingcat’s “chief investigator” Christo Grozev was deeply involved in a failed operation by Ukrainian intelligence officers to get their hands on Russian warplanes. Pilots of the fighter planes were secretly approached by the Ukrainians with a lucrative offer. If they defected with their equipment to the Ukrainians, they were promised a million dollars in cash, plus a European passport. The pilots were also told how to fly so that they could make the crossing without fear of being shot at.
Various Russian media, including the English-language RT, showed audio recordings [ER: of meetings]that Ukrainian intelligence officers had conducted with Russian pilots. They also showed footage of a money transfer to a Russian pilot who had pretended to defect. What the two ladies who gave him the money didn’t know was that the pilot was filming the transaction. The person who hired the two ladies as money mules was subsequently arrested. The Russian media also showed a video recording of that action. The detainee alleged that he was acting on behalf of the Bulgarian Christo Grozev, principal investigator at Bellingcat. Grozev had sent someone to deliver the money to him. According to an employee of the Russian intelligence service FSB interviewed by RT, the Ukrainians carried out the operation in cooperation with the British intelligence service MI6, and Grozev is also working with this service.
Grozev is a welcome guest in Dutch current affairs programmes. The Dutch newspapers also know where to find him. But now that he is accused of being involved in a botched operation by Ukrainian military intelligence, there has been total media silence. This is despite the fact that Grozev himself has stated via Twitter that the Russian revelations are true. According to him, Bellingcat’s involvement consisted of a documentary he made of the Ukrainian operation. “A team of Ukrainian agents decided to approach Russian pilots,” Grozev said. “We heard about this initiative and secured a spot in the front row – to make a documentary of this feat.”
It is not the first time that Bellingcat gives the impression of being something other than an independent journalistic investigative platform. Bellingcat has been funded by the US government for years, and perhaps even from the start. This funding is through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). NED co-founder Allen Weinstein told The Washington Post, “Much of what we do today was done covertly by the CIA 25 years ago.” In addition, there is a telling statement from the former head of operations of the CIA for Europe and Eurasia, Marc Polymeropoulos. “We love this,” he said of Bellingcat in an interview with US magazine Foreign Policy in 2020. “Instead of solving things yourself or worrying about classification problems, you can just refer to their work.”
The Wikispooks website, which closely monitors intelligence agencies, sees it exactly that way, but from a different perspective. Bellingcat helps the media promote “Anglo-Saxon-US-NATO narratives,”according to Wikispooks. Bellingcat does this by feeding the media “quotes that they dare not take for themselves and cannot attribute to those who ultimately control the narrative, namely intelligence services”.
In 2018, the British government’s secretly-funded Integrity Initiative took stock of who could help fight what it considers Russian disinformation. Doubts arose about Bellingcat, according to a confidential document published by Anonymous. “Bellingcat has become somewhat discredited,” Integrity Initiative noted. “This is because Bellingcat itself is spreading disinformation, but also because they are willing to provide reports to anyone who pays for it.”
Incidentally, Integrity Initiative turned out to have a Dutch department, where in addition to Dutch people, three employees of the American Ministry of Foreign Affairs were on the list. Among the Dutch was Sijbren de Jong, who at the time was affiliated with Rob de Wijk’s The Hague Center for Strategic Studies, and who has been working at NATO headquarters in Brussels since 2017. None of the Dutch media reported the disclosures about Integrity Initiative.
Bellingcat profiles itself as a club that collects open source information, i.e. via sources that are accessible to everyone via the internet, such as social media and Google Maps. But the reality is different. Passports, call data and mailboxes of Russian secret agents are anything but open source. But Bellingcat gets their hands on it time and time again.
Sensitive information, in particular about officers of the Russian military intelligence service GRU, whether fake or partly fake, continues to surface on the Bellingcat website. And as in the case of the poisoning cases of the Skripals and Alexei Navalny, it also appears on the website The Insider of Russian journalist and Bellingcat partner Roman Dobrokhotov. Bellingcat denies that they receive this information from Western intelligence services. They receive these from ethical hackers, they say, from an organization called Black Mirror – or they buy them on the black market.
Bellingcat employs someone who calls himself Timi Allen. It turned out to be a pseudonym. The German media revealed his real name: Olaf Neitsch. In a previous life he worked for the Stasi, the dreaded secret service of the GDR. Apparently this is not a problem for the Dutch press. Geert Mak praised him in a TV series he made for the VPRO, entitled Europa, history caught in the act. “The spy from then is now looking for the truth,” says Mak.
Bellingcat has received a lot of praise in the Netherlands with publications about the MH17 disaster. Over the years, however, it has become apparent that the investigative collective has repeatedly missed the mark or even knowingly violated the truth. For example, Grozev announced that a man who had testified to him about combat aircraft had withdrawn his statement. That turned out to be untrue when the man, Artyom Tereschenko, showed on camera the chat he had had with Grozev.
Three Russians who have been repeatedly associated with MH17 by Bellingcat, including Igor Bezler, were found not to be suspected of anything by the Public Prosecution Service at the opening of the MH17 criminal case at the District Court of The Hague. Bezler subsequently filed a lawsuit against Bellingcat and Bellingcat employee Pieter van Huis, who was responsible for most of the articles about him. The St. Petersburg court ordered them to pay damages totaling 340 thousand rubles. Bellingcat must also remove all articles from its website in which they list Bezler as a suspect. The Dutch mass media have left these and other Bellingcat scandals completely unspoken.