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Tehran stops sharing evidence from plane crash with Kyiv after leak

Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 crash wreckage. (Mehr News Agency/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

An Iranian official says his country will stop sharing with Kyiv evidence from the crash of a Ukrainian airliner shot down near Tehran last month after audio from the investigation showing the authorities were aware immediately that a missile may have downed the plane was leaked by Ukrainian media.

The semiofficial Mehr news agency quoted Hassan Rezaifar, the director in charge of accident investigations at Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization, as saying on February 3 the move was linked to the audio leak from a day earlier.

“The technical investigation team of the Ukrainian airline crash, in a strange move, published the secret audio file of the communications of a pilot of a plane that was flying at the same time as the Ukrainian plane,” Rezaifar said, according to Mehr.

“This action by the Ukrainians led to us not sharing any more evidence with them,” he added.

A transcript of the recording, released over the weekend, contains a conversation in Persian between an air-traffic controller and a pilot who was reportedly flying a Fokker 100 jet for Iran’s Aseman Airlines. In the conversation as the small plane flew from Iran’s southern city of Shiraz to Tehran, the pilot insists he saw what he believed was a missile and then an explosion in the area where the plane went down.

The UIA Boeing 737-800 crashed several minutes after taking off from Tehran’s primary international airport on January 8, killing all 176 people aboard.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy acknowledged on February 2 that the recording, first aired by the Ukrainian television channel 1+1, was authentic.

Iranian authorities initially denied any responsibility for the accident, but three days after the tragedy the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) admitted the plane was shot down “unintentionally.”

Zelenskiy said on February 3 that he had canceled a trip by Ukrainian investigators to Tehran to participate in the decoding of the plane’s black boxes and called on Tehran to bring them to Kyiv.