AARON MATE—Although the identity Bellingcat-HuffPost UK’s dodgy source is unknown, the participation of a third outlet in this story – the UK state broadcaster BBC — offers a strong candidate.
Just weeks after Bellingcat’s debunked story appeared, the BBC released a podcast that attempted to advance the same bogus line. “Mayday” host Chloe Hadjimatheou repeated the Bellingcat letter’s falsehoods about the wood samples and the secret Syria-Russian acceptance of the OPCW’s final report. In yet another uncanny crossover, Hadjimatheou also falsely suggested that one of the OPCW whistleblowers received a payment from Wikileaks. In emails to Wikileaks and Whelan one month before Mayday was aired, Bellingcat’s Nick Waters made the same insinuation.
While her uncritical promotion of the Bellingcat-HuffPost UK letter’s debunked assertions was nothing new, Hadjimatheou did offer one significant contribution. To make her case against the whistleblowers, Hadjimatheou interviewed someone whom she claimed was an anonymous OPCW official operating behind the pseudonym, “Leon.” Hadjimatheou did not specify what role, if any, Leon played in the Douma investigation. The anonymous official also offered nothing of substance beyond what was already claimed in the bogus OPCW letter released by Bellingcat.