By Nebojsa Malic, senior writer at RT
While praising the OPCW whistleblower’s integrity and professionalism, one director worried that seeking truth about the altered report on a “chemical attack” in Syria might help Russia, which he denounced as the enemy.
“I fear there is little one can do, since the report is final and out – unless one wants to feed in the Russian narrative and that I would never do, as they really are not bona fide friends of this organization, that’s for sure,” was the message of a director to Dr. Brendan Whelan, one of the whistleblowers who challenged the ‘interim’ report by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) as having been doctored for political purposes.
This is according to emails published on Monday by the Grayzone, an investigative outlet that has been following the OPCW whistleblower story since the beginning.
New @TheGrayzoneNews exclusive: Before the scandal blew open, OPCW executives privately criticized the Syria probe cover-up and supported the veteran inspector who led the protest against it. One of the execs also feared helping the “Russian narrative.”https://t.co/XOOHAycUs0
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) December 7, 2020
The director – whose name was redacted to protect his privacy – is the same one who, in 2018, praised Whelan for his initial objections to the report, saying his email was “very carefully crafted, without emotions, not accusing anybody but laying out the facts and concerns very clearly.” Whelan’s June 22, 2018 email “took all the steps to maintain your moral and professional integrity,” he added, according to documents published by the Grayzone.
Robert Fairweather, a British diplomat who was OPCW chief of cabinet at the time, requested that Whelan’s email be “recalled” – erased from the organization’s documents and archives – without explanation, having previously said the report was not “redacted” at the behest of the OPCW director-general, and that he only asked “that the report did not speculate.”
The “core” team appointed from new OPCW hires was then tasked with writing the final report, but apparently waited until Whelan’s term at the organization expired in September 2018 to publish its version of the report. Ironically, it did nothing but speculate – conveniently omitting any evidence actually gathered by the Douma inspectors to blame the government of President Bashar Assad in Damascus for what might have been a “chlorine” attack on the town held by Jaysh al-Islam militants. Fairweather was later made an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for “services to international relations.”
Four whistleblowers have since come forward to challenge the OPCW’s alterations of the initial report. The organization’s response has been to defame them as disgruntled employees, while NATO-affiliated narrative management outfit Bellingcat actually doxxed Whelan.
The 16-year veteran of the organization, who was praised for his professionalism and integrity by multiple directors – as the Grayzone documented – was thus hung out to dry because challenging the report would help “Russian narratives.”
And he wasn’t the only one. In October, OPCW’s founding director general José Bustani was blocked by the US, UK, and France from addressing the UN Security Council – the same countries that launched missile strikes against Syria without waiting for the Douma investigation and have been accused of pressuring the OPCW into publishing the report retroactively validating that action.
The OPCW director referenced above also told Whelan that talking about the report was “difficult to pursue out in the open, knowing that it is already being played by parties who are decidedly not bona fide supporters of the [Chemical Weapons Convention].” This is according to an April 17, 2019 email.
The “parties” referenced here are highly likely to be Russia, which the UK had accused of a chemical attack on a former spy in Salisbury, without any evidence but based on Bellingcat speculation. The US didn’t exactly object, choosing to take London’s word for it.
Western governments are trying to politicize the OPCW and, “in fact, turn it into an obedient tool to realize their military and political agenda,” Russia’s envoy to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin told RT last month. These emails appear to support his assessment.
The fact that the OPCW Douma scandal is not already as notorious as the ‘dodgy dossier’ concerning Iraq WMD allegations is a sign of the erosion of press freedom. Some journalists however strive to maintain independence, and they’ve kept this story alive:https://t.co/kIC190guya
— Tim Hayward (@Tim_Hayward_) December 7, 2020
Meanwhile, mainstream media coverage of the OPCW whistleblower complaints has consisted of repeating the official defamatory claims about them or citing Bellingcat, leaving the job of digging for actual documents to outlets like the Grayzone and other independent journalists.