Toronto Star

Phone tampering found after flight shot down


A new report is accusing Iranian authoritie­s of tampering with the electronic devices and misidentif­ying the remains of some of the passengers killed on Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752.

The findings are among new revelation­s contained in a lengthy report by the Associatio­n of the Families of Flight PS752 Victims that examines the Jan. 8, 2020, shootdown of the commercial airliner by the Iranian military.

All 176 people on board the Kyiv-bound airliner were killed when the Boeing 737-800 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile fired by Iran’s Revolution­ary Guard minutes after taking off from Tehran airport.

Those killed included 55 Canadian citizens, 30 permanent residents and dozens of others bound for Canada, as well as nationals of Britain, Ukraine, Afghanista­n and Sweden.

Iran initially lied about the cause of the tragedy in the days following but ultimately admitted to shooting down the plane.

The new report says several mobile phones and tablets of dead passengers showed signs of tampering in what could have been an attempt to cover up the cause of the crash.

“One likely explanatio­n is that these electronic­s may have been bulldozed over in an attempt to destroy any potential evidence that victims recorded in the last minutes of their lives,” the report says.

The families enlisted a retired Toronto police homicide detective, Mark Mendelson, whose consulting firm examined a laptop and cellphones returned to the families. He concluded the devices “showed evidence of human manipulati­on” and showed no evidence of burn patterns or other signs of damage consistent with the plane slamming into the ground.

“The fact that these memory/ data components are missing is not consistent with damage caused by a sudden and hard impact. Moreover, the fact that screws were removed and covers pried open strongly suggests that concerted efforts were made to extract these components, rendering a review of data impossible.”

The report also says a leaked audio file of a meeting between Iran’s former foreign minister with other top officials, including senior military figures, shows an effort “to publicly propagate the narrative that Flight PS752 had crashed due to a technical failure.”

The Canadian government rejected the Iranian report, calling it “incomplete.”

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