OPCW-DOUMA – Release Part 4

27 December 2019 — Wikileaks

All Releases

Today WikiLeaks releases more internal documents from the OPCW regarding the investigation into the alleged chemical attack in Douma in April 2018.

One of the documents is an e-mail exchange dated 27 and 28 February between members of the fact finding mission (FFM) deployed to Douma and the senior officials of the OPCW. It includes an e-mail from Sebastien Braha, Chief of Cabinet at the OPCW, where he instructs that an engineering report from Ian Henderson should be removed from the secure registry of the organisation:

“Please get this document out of DRA [Documents Registry Archive]… And please remove all traces, if any, of its delivery/storage/whatever in DRA”.

The main finding of Henderson, who inspected the sites in Douma and two cylinders that were found on the site of the alleged attack, was that they were more likely manually placed there than dropped from a plane or helicopter from considerable heights. His findings were omitted from the official final OPCW report on the Douma incident.

Another document released today is minutes from a meeting on 6 June 2018 where four staff members of the OPCW had discussions with “three Toxicologists/Clinical pharmacologists, one bioanalytical and toxicological chemist” (all specialists in chemical weapons, according to the minutes).

The purpose of this meeting was two-fold. The first objective was

“To solicit expert advice on the value of exhuming suspected victims of the alleged chemical attack in Douma on 7 April 2018”. According to the minutes, the OPCW team was advised by the experts that there would be little use in conducting exhumations. The second point was “To elicit expert opinions from the forensic toxicologists regarding the observed and reported symptoms of the alleged victims.”

More specifically,

“…whether the symptoms observed in victims were consistent with exposure to chlorine or other reactive chlorine gas.”

According to the minutes leaked today: “With respect to the consistency of the observed and reported symptoms of the alleged victims with possible exposure to chlorine gas or similar, the experts were conclusive in their statements that there was no correlation between symptoms and chlorine exposure”.

The OPCW team members wrote that the key “take-away message” from the meeting was

“that the symptoms observed were inconsistent with exposure to chlorine and no other obvious candidate chemical causing the symptoms could be identified”.

The third document is a copy of OPCW e-mail exchanges from 20 to 28 August 2018 discussing the meeting with the toxicologists.

The fourth document is an e-mail exchange from the end of July 2018 where it is stated that the eight OPCW inspectors deployed to Douma during the fact finding mission (except one, a paramedic) should be excluded from discussions on the project.

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