Café Weltschmerz is a Dutch citizen journalism movement which publishes video interviews with various people having critical minds. It has a conservative view on currents developments in the world. Many people interviewed are dissenters.
In mid November 2016 Wierd Duk, a Dutch journalist working for one of the Netherlands major newspapers Algemeen Dagblad, did an interview with Karel van Wolferen. Van Wolferen is a journalist, writer and professor, who is particularly recognised for his knowledge of Japanese, politics, economics, history and culture. This is a detailed bio.
The interview has over 11 factual incorrect statements expressed by Mr Karel Van Wolferen.
Karel van Wolferen does not appear in Dutch regular media for a very good reason. However in Dutch alternative media he can be seen once a while. For example in discussions about the Ukraine-EU referendum.
The interview for Café Weltschmerz was about Ukraine, United States, IS , geopolitics and MH17. In this blog I will focus on the statements made by Karel van Wolferen on MH17. Many of these statements are factual incorrect. The statements were made in October 2016 but seem to be from a person with knowledge from around July 2014. I will discuss each and every statement in this blog.
Purpose of this blogpost
The purpose of this blogpost is to uncover Karel van Wolferen as someone who has no clue his is talking about regarding MH17. Oh and some of you now reading this might start thinking I am a Bellingcat supporter. While I do respect the work of Bellingcat, I have criticized Bellingcat in the past. For me one thing counts: the truth and nothing but the truth!
Lets get started.
Content of this blog
In this blog I will factcheck the statements made in interviews listed below
- Statements by Karel van Wolferen in Café Weltschmerz interview with Wierd Duk October 2016
- Statement by Cafe Weltschmerz
- Statement made by Karel van Wolferen in public appearence in June 2015
In summary my objections to the statements by Van Wolferen are:
- making 11 factual incorrect statements;
- Van Wolferen does not say anything about the suspicious behaviour of Russia;
- No balance in his statements, just telling the Kremlin narrative;
- No mentioning of the many clear lies by the Kremlin;
- no details on an alternative scenario and how likely it could be. Just doubting the scenario proven by JIT and DSB;
Fatual incorrect statements by Cafe Weltschmerz
The first factual incorrect statement is made by Cafe Weltschmerz in an announcement of the video having the interview with van Wolferen. It says here “The motivation for the conversation was the publication of the MH17 report, in which Russia (= Putin) frankly was blamed for being the perpetrator”.
That is not correct. To start with Joint Investigation Team does not have a mandate to prosecute or blaim states. It can only prosecute individuals. JIT concluded a BUK TELAR crossed the Russian/Ukraine border, shot down MH17 and returned towards the Russian border.
After the preliminary results were made public by JIT, many leaders of Western states responded. Also EU and NATO responded. This is the response of Mark Rutte, PM of the Netherlands. The word Russia is not even mentioned! This is the response of the United States to the publication of the preliminary results of the JIT. There is no mention of the Russian Federation either.
Obviously it is extremely likely the Russian Federation is responsible for supplying the BUK TELAR as well as operating it. Dutch State or the next of kin will need to initiate a court case against the Russian Federation at ICJ or ECtHR for prosecution of the Russian Federation. The prosecution services of the JIT countries do not have a mandate to do this.
Factual incorrect statements by Karel van Wolferen in interview with Wierd Duk October 2016
In this section I will show the statements van Wolferen made during two interviews in which he talked about MH17.
To show the unbalanced view of Van Wolferen I like to give an example. Van Wolferen mentions in the interview that Samantha Power, ambassador of the US to the United Nations, walked out during an UN Russian speech over US bombing of the Syrian army. Van Wolferen states that this walk out is undiplomatic. This took place at September 17 2016.
However the context is very different than Van Wolferen tells.
Associated Press is one of the few media reporting what exactly happened in the United Nations and in what sequence.
Churkin walked out of Saturday night’s acrimonious closed emergency session of the Security Council shortly before U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power began to speak. Earlier, Power had left the chamber to speak with reporters while Churkin spoke. Dismissing Russia’s call for the emergency meeting as “a stunt” that is “uniquely cynical and hypocritical” because Moscow had done nothing to condemn atrocities committed by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.
So Van Wolferen tells half of the story by failing to mention that Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations also walked out of an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to protest the US calling the meeting a “stunt”.
Mind Russia bombed a UN aid convoy in Syria a few days before but denies being responsible for it.
At September 25 Britain’s ambassador to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, US ambassador Samantha Power and French ambassador Francois Delattre walk out of an emergency security council session on the conflict in Syria on Sunday when the Syrian ambassador begins speaking. Walking out during a speech is certainly not a rare event.
At 09:15 in the interview Van Wolferen says:
What a nonsense story (about BUK TELAR transported from Russia)
Why would Russia using a BUK want to shot down an airplane?” They do not benefit from that. They do not benefit.
Van Wolferen is not aware of the fact that people make mistakes. A mistake is by far the most likely reason why a BUK missile was launched. A Korean Air B747 was shot down by Russia by mistake. An Iran Air Airbus A300 was shot down by the United States by mistake.
Wierd Duk then states it could be a mistake.
Van Wolferen does not answer the question of Wierd Duk. He says that media mentions a Russian BUK just like a F16 is a US made aircraft.
I agree with him on that one. Western press and BCC and CNN in particular mentioned ‘Russian BUK missile’ in a way which could mislead readers. Dutch NOS did worse by mentioning “The fact that parts of a BUK missile were found in wreckage of victims makes the chances Russia is involved bigger”. I discussed this and more bias by NOS in this blogpost.
This is one of the very few statements I agree with.
Van Wolferen continues:
Information in the report is based on tapped telephone conversations. Those recordings were given to the JIT by the Ukraine Secret Service which is not reliable. Ukraine is a suspect. There is not integrity of the investigation report.
This is an often used argument by MH17 truthers. SBU is not reliable so the telephone taps are fake. The Dutch police independently verified that the taps are authentic. They did so by travelling to Eastern Ukraine and check meta data of the conversations. For instance by checking telephone poles. JIT was not allowed by the Luhansk Republic leaders to investigate the telephone towers in Luhansk. The Netherlands largest newspaper Telegraaf reported about the obstruction of the criminal investigation in August 2015.
SBU is for sure not the most reliable secret service. It is based on the notorious Russian secret service. Same way of working. However the Dutch and Australian police for sure double check the evidence. Also telephone taps are not the only evidence. There are eyewitness, satellite images, photos, videos and a lot more we do not know about.
Ukraine is a suspect in the mind of people who are biased. In justice a suspect has a motif, was at the crime scene , could carry a weapon or there are strong indication (like DNA) he is involved. There is no evidence Ukraine was involved in the downing of MH17.
Then Wierd Duk mentions the investigation by Bellingcat. Van Wolferen interrupts.
The JIT report does not have integrity because the Ukrainian government demanded that is must give permission before the report is published. So a suspect can give permission what is published in the police report. Basically this is a confession of guilt. All information comes from the SBU. The SBU is lead by someone who was seen before the coup as a gangster. And who returned to the position after he was kicked out. He is a very unreliable person. Such an outfit cannot be trusted.
Van Wolferen talks about Valentyn Nalyvaichenko who indeed was head of SBU twice. His second time was from February 2014 to June 2015. While he might have an influence on the criminal investigation report, he left SBU 15 months before JIT made public the preliminary results.
Factual incorrect statement # 1. There is no such thing as a veto. This was invented by pro-Russia supporters to make the JIT agreement suspicious. In this article by Dutch RTL Nieuws the Dutch Ministry of Safety and Justice says: “There is no veto power. The document made public by Australia shows JIT countries agreed to be reluctant in releasing information.
Factual incorrect statement # 2. Nobody knows who took the initiative for the non-disclosure agreement (often called a veto). So saying it was the Ukraine goverment is nothing more than an assumption, not a fact. Australian government in a letter made clear what the reason for the non-disclosure agreement is.
This agreement requires consensus among the parties before information regarding the investigation can be released. The non-disclosure of information is important to avoid jeopardising the investigation or prejudicing a future judicial proceeding arising from the investigation.
At 12:46 Wierd Duk mentions Bellingcat. The response of Van Wolferen:
Bellingcat is a very interesting person. He is a fraud. He is a crook. Bellingcat is a British guy. He lost his job and has a lot of experience with playing computer games. Higgins started to interfere in world politics and came with evidence for the usage of chemical weapons in Syria. Der Spiegel has apologized to his readers for using Bellingcat as a reliable source. A German prosecutor has told “it should stop to use Bellingcat because he is completely unreliable. He is a fraud”. Bellingcat then started to focus on MH17. Just before he changed from Brown Moses to Bellingcat. Propagandists thankfully used Bellingcat. He is so called neutal, not connected to main stream media. A kind of citizen collective of citizenjournalists. You should take the collective with a grain of salt. There are people who are in contact using email but he (Eliot Higgins) does it all alone. On his counch he sits with his computer. There has been a lot of evidence presented of what he tells is pulled out of thin air. It is absolutely incorrect. On that base also in Dutch media with great certainty all kind of statements made as if Bellingcat would be a reliable source.
Factual incorrect # 3: Bellingcat has 5 full time members of staff (including Eliot Higgins and Aric Toler) and 15 volunteers. See this TEDx talk where Higgins tells this. Many Bellingcat volunteers worked on investigations regarding MH17. Daniel Romein for example worked with others on the report about the smoke plume and the route of the BUK TELAR when it was transported from its base in Kursk to the Russian/Ukrainian border. Bellingcat does a lot more than investigation on MH17 and Syria. An overview of Bellingcat contributors is here.
In total 10 volunteers of Bellingcat worked on various investigations related to MH17. The names are Eliot Higgins, Aric Toler, Andrew Haggard, Iggy Ostanin, Veli-Pekka Kivimäki, Timmi Allen, Daniel Romein, Klement Anders, Pieter van Huis and Nathan Pathin.
This is an interview with Pieter van Huis who volunteers for Bellingcat in Dutch tv program De Wereld Draait Door.
Van Wolferen makes claim about Bellingcat being a fraud and produces unreliable evidence without providing any proof for his statements.
The German prosecutor is actually a retired prosecutor called Gabrielle Wolff.
At 15:36 Wierd Duk says that a lot of things Bellingcat concluded were right.
Van Wolferen response:
So what is correct then?
Wierd Duk: “he has the images of the Buk installation
These images are manipulated. These are not correct.
Factual incorrect # 4. For example Joint Investigation Team at September 28 showed a video showing the BUK TELAR parked in Donetsk. Some trolls stated for a long time the photos were fake. With the video showed by JIT we are sure these photos (stills of the video) are authentic. There is no proof photos or videos are fake. Just statements done by pro Russia people with a notorious reputation for being biased.
Wierd Duk: who made clear these photos were manipulated?
It happened on the wrong dates. The weather conditions show it. There are so many details. I do not have them in my memory. There is a lot you can read. I have it at home. If you are interested I can sent it to you. Nothing is correct. He (Higgins) is an important assett, help , for the propagadists. He stated he works for the Atlantic Council. That is the marketing division of NATO.
Factual incorrect statement # 5: while the date of the photos taken in Donetsk based on the video made are not officialy established, they are extremely likely made at July 17. One of the indications is the DigitalGlobe satellite photo made at July 17 which shows a truck with a load with could well be the BUK TELAR. All shadows on the photos show an indication of the time which the photo was made. So far there is no proof the photos and videos are not genuine.
I asked Eliot Higgins about his work for Atlantic Council. His response was:
“Regarding the Atlantic Council, I feel the vast majority of people who use that as a criticism of me are people who have made up their mind anyway with or without the Atlantic Council, usually Assad and Putin (and now Trump) cheerleaders. Frankly their opinions don’t mean much to me anyway, and if any serious person wants to raise it as an issue then I just ask they find something in our work to criticise.”
Lets continue with checking the statement of Van Wolferen for facts:
Wierd Duk: so you are now questioning the integrity of the investigation team ? You assume the investigation team who search millions of websites and who spoke to people and looked at materials, you argues that these people have been fooled by a fraud, being Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat?
At 17:21 Van Wolferen response to the question of Duk
If they told that they took the results by Bellingcat into their considerations. If they indeed used Bellingcat evidence, I do not know, they do not say. They say they found irrefutable evidence they found last couple of months , as mentioned in the most recent report, came from the Ukrainian secret service. There is one journalist in the whole of Netherlands, that is Joost Niemoller, who asks this questions. It is a clear very obvious question. Where did you get that, do you have another source for evidence? No , just that one. One of the most important questions is asked by one journalist and the rest of the Dutch journalists do not follow up. You know, I always had a reasonable trust in the Dutch yournalism . it is because this story, about MH17 , that was for me, I was a while in the Netherlands, most time of my life I spent in Asia, for me that was a relevation , that Dutch journalists could sink so much I had not expected. Koenders with such a weak point are provoking Putin.
Factual incorrect # 6 : Van Wolferen pretends as if all evidence came from SBU. That is not correct. JIT stated in presconference at September for example it used satellite photos, eyewitness statements and more.
At 18:457 Wierd Duk says:
You can say that, but for example Jeroen Akkersmans of RTL did extensive research at this case. He has the same objections as you. The Netherlands should not have been in the lead of the investigation because the Netherlands is a victim in this case. Ukraine should not be a part of the investigation as it is complicated and one of the suspects and has veto power. But Jeroen and others do not have doubts about the conclusion of JIT.
At 19:43 Van Wolferen says:
Were they intimidated? I would love to have a talk with someone who really investigated this. Who really investigated circumstancial evidence. I really like to talk with that person. That person may convince me. It is possible to convince me but he has to be very well prepared.
Factual incorrect # 7. I did my very best to contact Van Wolferen to have a talk. I tried the email address and phone numbers on his website, I contacted Cafe Weltschmerz. I asked Wierd Duk. No response from Van Wolferen to make an appointment.
Wierd Duk. So what happened there according to you?
We do not know the details. It could be a combination of a machinegun of a fighterjet plus a BUK. Or an air to air missile from another aircraft and a machinegun. Everything is possible.
Wierd Duk: all those scenarios have been investigated into detail.
That is not true. JIT stated there is not enough evidence and therefor we do not consider that. However there are many eyewitness who saw it. The BBC did an interview soon after it happened and after it got too hot for the BBC because everyone had decided Putin did it BBC deleted it from the site. Aircraft fly under the radar and can in a short time fly upwards and finish the mission and down the aircraft. There is no eyewitness of the launch of a BUK missile, nothing at all. There are many other things an investigation team should put focus on. Especially those 30mm bulletholes in the fuselage and in the aircraft seat. The first person who arrived at the crashsite was a Canadian with a difficult name I cannot remember , he is a member of OVSE and told on canadian tv he noticed there was machinegun used . That was his conclusion.
Factual incorrect # 8: BBC Russia deleted the interview according to this report by Russia Today as the report had “imperfect structure” and “incomplete compliance of the editorial values of BBC.” . BBC Russia explained the reason here. The eyewitness told the saw a plane flying under MH17. As MH17 flew at 10km altitude, it is impossible to see a fighter aircraft at that height, especially as it was heavily overcast at the moment of the shot down.
Factual incorrect # 9: There is no eyewitness of the launch of a BUK missile, nothing at all
Nonsense. In this press release by Dutch police it is clearly written JIT spoke to severall eyewitness who saw a missile flying.
This is my blogpost about eyewitness who stated they saw a missile flying. At least one of them saw the missile seconds after it was launched.
Many people on social media immediately after the shot down reported they either heard a lot of noise or saw a missile flying.
Eyewitness reports of people stating they saw one or two aircraft appeared much later. Many of those reports told a different story. One or two aircraft, low or high flying and so on. Russian radar did not detect any aircraft in the area capable of dowing MH17. See this post.
Factual incorrect # 10. Bulletholes in the fuselage are nonsense for multiple reasons. One of the reasons is that 30mm bullet holes from a machinegun look like as shown on the image left. The holes on the MH17 cockpit fuselage look totally different. There are a couple of round holes and those are caused by the filler fragments. The main reason bullets are nonsense is the fact there were no other aircraft near MH17. This was concluded by DSB, by JIT as well as the Russian Ministry of Defense. At 8:24 in the recording of the pressconference of the Russian MoD at September 26 it is clearly said : “you do not see any other aerial objects around it”
Michael Bociurkiw (an Ukranian Canadian) of the OSCE group of monitors at his daily briefing described part of the plane’s fuselage dotted with “shrapnel-like, almost machine gun-like holes.” He did his statement in an interview which can be seen here. He litterly said:
“There have been two or three pieces of fuselage that have been really pockmarked with what almost looks like machine gun fire, very, very strong machine gun fire that has left these unique marks that we haven’t seen anywhere else. We have been asked, for example, have we seen any examples of missile. Well, no we haven’t. That’s the answer. And even if it was there, we don’t have those trained eyes to pick that up but now there are experts here who would be able to.”
The statement of Bociurkiw can easy be explained. He was not aware of the damagepattern of a BUK warhead. Any non-informed person would probably think the cockpit panel was hit by machine gun fire.
Wierd Duk: Akkerman also investigated this. Jeroen even found a part of the missile with Russian character on it.
Wait wait. How many months later?
Wierd Duk: he went many times to …
That thing lay there for a while and then half year or one year later they find something. Sorry.
Wierd Duk: So they planted it there
I do not say that. If you do forensic investigation you do not do that half year after it happened, also not after one month.
Wierd Duk: complicated fact the area was contaminated. Everyone could walk freely. Everything could have happened. We can conclude you do not agree to the conclusion of JIT.
While van Wolferen is not sure if it was planted, I believe it actually was as described in my blogpost here.
At 23:17 Van Wolferen continues:
I do much further than that. As Dutchmen we should be ashamed that our minister of foreign affairs and other prime minister on the stage of the world and offer this to the world as a credible report! That is horrible.
Factual incorrect # 11. The Dutch government has nothing to do with the investigation by the Joint Investigation Team. The Dutch government on purpose did not want to intervene in any possible way as it would contaminate the investigation. Russia would say that the investigation was politically influenced.
Wierd Duk: well the world will accept this as a credible report
23:40 Van Wolferen:
Here Van Wolferen talks about minister Timmermans going to Kiev. He should go to the crash site. The Malaysians had no problem to go to the crash site. Later Van Wolferen heard that if Timmersmans visited the crash site it would mean he acknowlegde the separatists. That would Kiev not have accepted. The crash helped Washington to convince EU states to join sanctions against Russia.
Here Van Wolferen is correct. It is well known that Kiev did not want the Netherlands to negotiate with separatists. For example signatures could only be signed with a written disclaimer that the Netherlands did not recognize LPR and DPR.
The rest of the interview is about geopolitics.
Lack of knowledge shown in earlier appearance
The interview with Wierd Duk is not the only appearance in which Van Wolferen shows he lacks knowledge on MH17. In this talk around June 2015 on stage with Joost Niemoller, van Wolferen says
At 6:55 he talks about an control tower in Kiev. He says “that aircraft had to fly lower and we do not know why. Timmermans should demand the radar images to be handed over”
That is another factual incorrect statement. The DSB preliminary report clearly showed MH17 did not descend. That report was made public long before the statements of Van Wolferen. Also Ukraine did hand over radar recordings. Only the secondary radar recordings as there was no primary radar available at the time of the crash. The transcript of talks between the air traffic control and MH17 pilot has been documentend in the DSB final report. Last but not least: the control tower in Kiev did not have contact with MH17. Dnipropetrovsk area control was the sector of UkSATSE which had contact with MH17 before the crash.
I counted over 11 factual incorrect statements. Van Wolferen lacks any knowledge on MH17 and is extremely biased.
I offered both Karel van Wolferen and Cafe Weltschmerz to give their comments on this article before publication. Both declined the offer.by