(The Associated Press)

Recordings show Iran knew jetliner hit by a missile: Ukraine

The Iranian government had insisted for days after the crash that it didn’t know what happened

A leaked recording of an exchange between an Iranian air-traffic controller and an Iranian pilot purports to show that authorities immediately knew a missile had downed a Ukrainian jetliner after takeoff from Tehran, killing all 176 people aboard, despite days of denials by the Islamic Republic.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy acknowledged the recording’s authenticity in a report aired by a Ukrainian television channel on Sunday night.

In Tehran on Monday, the head of the Iranian investigation team, Hassan Rezaeifar, acknowledged the recording was legitimate and said that it was handed over to Ukrainian officials.

After the Jan. 8 disaster, Iran’s civilian government maintained for days that it didn’t know the country’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, answerable only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had shot down the aircraft. The downing of the jetliner came just hours after the Guard launched a ballistic missile attack on Iraqi bases housing U.S. forces in retaliation for an earlier American drone strike that killed the Guard’s top general, Qassem Soleimani, in Baghdad.

A transcript of the recording, published by Ukrainian 1+1 TV channel, contains a conversation in Farsi between an air-traffic controller and a pilot reportedly flying a Fokker 100 jet for Iran’s Aseman Airlines from Iran’s southern city of Shiraz to Tehran.

“A series of lights like … yes, it is missile, is there something?” the pilot calls out to the controller.

“No, how many miles? Where?” the controller asks.

The pilot responds that he saw the light by the Payam airport, near where the Guard’s Tor M-1 anti-aircraft missile was launched from. The controller says nothing has been reported to them, but the pilot remains insistent.

“It is the light of missile,” the pilot says.

“Don’t you see anything anymore?” the controller asks.

“Dear engineer, it was an explosion. We saw a very big light there, I don’t really know what it was,” the pilot responds.

The controller then tries to contract the Ukrainian jetliner, but unsuccessfully.

Publicly accessible flight-tracking radar information suggests the Aseman Airlines aircraft, flight No. 3768, was close enough to Tehran to see the blast.

Iranian civil aviation authorities for days insisted it wasn’t a missile that brought down the plane, even after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. officials began saying they believed it had been shot down.

There were 57 Canadian citizens aboard the aircraft along with several others who had ties to Canada.

Iranian officials should have immediately had access to the air-traffic control recordings and Zelenskiy told 1+1 that “the recording, indeed, shows that the Iranian side knew from the start that our plane was shot down by a missile, they were aware of this at the moment of the shooting.”

Ukraine’s president repeated his demands to decode the plane’s flight recorders in Kyiv — something Iranian officials had promised last month but later backtracked on. On Monday, Ukrainian investigators were to travel to Tehran to participate in the decoding effort, but Zelenskiy insisted on bringing the so-called “black boxes” back to Kyiv.

“It is very important for us,” he said.

Iranian authorities, however, condemned the publication of the recording as “unprofessional,” saying it was part of a confidential report.

“This action by the Ukrainians makes us not want to give them any more evidence,” said Rezaifar, the head of the Iranian investigators, according to a report by the semiofficial Mehr news agency.

___

Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writers Daria Litvinova in Moscow and Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.

___

Yuras Karmanau And Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press

Flight 752 crash in Iran

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Masset RCMP seize ‘substantial’ amount of guns, cash in Friday the 13th drug bust

Officers executed search warrant on March 13 at ‘suspicious’ Old Massett Village residence

‘It makes people feel cared for’: Haida Gwaii food bank cooks up new freezer meal service

Containers needed for meals for vulnerable people, those in self-isolation amid COVID-19

BC Ferries able to restrict travel for sick passengers

Ferries working on schedule shifts to keep workers safe

Haida Gwaii libraries launch new online sign-up service, 24/7 WiFi

Residents without library cards can now sign up online, access eLibrary

Canadian ferry operators call for inclusion in COVID-19 travel restrictions

Domestic travel restrictions should include ferries, operators say

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

John Horgan extends B.C.’s state of emergency for COVID-19

Premier urges everyone to follow Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice

B.C.’s first community COVID-19 death was dentist ‘dedicated’ to health: lawyer

Vincent was 64 when he died on March 22 after attending the Pacific Dental Conference

Two inmates at prison housing Robert Pickton test positive for COVID-19

Correctional Service of Canada did not release any details on the identities of the inmates

BC SPCA launches matching campaign to help vulnerable animals after big donations

Two BC SPCA donors have offered up to $65,000 in matching donations

Quarantined B.C. mom say pandemic has put special-needs families in ‘crisis mode’

Surrey’s Christine Williams shares family’s challenges, strengths

Anti-tax group calls for MPs, senators to donate scheduled pay raises to charity

Bill C-30, adopted 15 years ago, mandates the salary and allowance increases each calendar year

Two arrested after man lies about COVID-19 illness to stay in Victoria Airbnb for free

Victoria Police found stolen goods inside the occupied unit

Liberals delay release of 75% wage subsidy details, costs: Morneau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Most Read