Pro-Russian rebels “deliberately tampered” with evidence of the doomed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at the crash site, a White House official said on Wednesday.
An anonymous source, told BBC that the separatists planned to disperse parts of other aircraft among the wreckage, to move bodies at the scene and, at least initially, intended to turn over the two flight recorders to Russia.
The conversations were said to be intercepted by the Ukraine government and deemed to be “very persuasive.”
Western countries, particularly the U.S., said it was certain that the rebels controlling the Donetsk region were the ones responsible for the attack, citing reports from intelligence as well as social media.
Intelligence reports indicated that the passenger jet was downed by a Russian-made SA-11 Buk missile launched from an area controlled by the Ukrainian rebels only 70 miles away from the Russian border.
The black boxes, which are actually orange in color, have been delivered by Malaysian authorities to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch headquarters in Hampshire in the U.K. today.
On Tuesday, the U.S. released satellite images and other sensitive intelligence information on the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 and underscored Russia’s responsibility for arming the Ukrainian rebels with the high-powered weapons used in the attack.
Senior intelligence officials, in a report by The Washington Post, said in a media briefing that assembled reports on the crash, based on path sensors, shrapnel markings, and voice-print analysis — pinned liability on the Ukraine rebels.
The officials said that it is possible the rebels may have committed a mistake in shooting down the plane because they are poorly trained and lack the advanced radar system that the SA-11 system needs to distinguish military from civilian planes.