NSA link sparks UN to act on Hammarskjöld probe
Published: 11 Feb 2014 08:02 GMT+01:00
Updated: 11 Feb 2014 08:02 GMT+01:00
A report indicating the US National Security Agency (NSA) likely has key evidence about the mysterious death of Swedish diplomat Dag Hammarsköld will be presented to the United Nations General Assembly, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has decided.
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- New inquiry into Dag Hammarskjöld's death (22 Jul 12)
"I interpret it as the Secretary General wanting member states to ransack their archives and asking them to see if they have anything to uncover," K.G. Hammar, a former Swedish archbishop and one of the experts behind the report, told the Dagens Nyhter (DN) newspaper.
"Since the commisison pointed quite clearly at the NSA, I think Ban Ki-Moon wants to diffuse things and ask: who out there knows anything at all? Bringing it up before the General Assembly creates an opportunity for a discussion."
Hammarskjöld died during the night of September 17th, 1961 in a plane crash in what is now Zambia, where he was headed to mediate in the ongoing conflict in neighbouring The Congo in his role as then UN Secretary General.
The diplomat's death has been the subject of numerous rumours and conspiracy theories over the past five decades centred around whether the crash was an accident, or if Hammarskjöld was killed.
Evidence available has left investigators puzzled, with pilot error deemed unlikely after witnesses claimed to have seen the plane going down on fire.
Last year, four senior lawyers carried out a news investigation into Hammarskjöld's death. The commission published its findings in September 2013 and urged the UN to launch its own probe into the crash.
By deciding to bring the matter to the General Assembly, Ki-Moon is indirectly urging all UN member states to release all information they may have related to Hammarskjöld's death, a move welcomed by Hans Conell, a Swedish human rights expert and former general counsel of the UN.
Corell helped put together the September 2013 report that urged the United States to declassify NSA documents, including radio communications and intercepts of war planes in the area at the time of Hammarskjöld's death.
The commission added that it was a "near certainty" that all air traffic information around the airport was "followed and recorded by the NSA and possibly even the CIA". Access to such files has been denied by the NSA due to the "top secret" classification, something the commission wants to be lifted to further the investigation.
"We were a commission put together as a private initiative. It's something totally different if the UN takes up the case," he told the TT news agency.
Despite the commission's findings, the NSA has so far refused to release any information about the crash that killed Hammarskjöld. But according to Corell, the agency has admitted that "we have three documents that correspond to the description you've given us" in the commission's report.
"They are transcripts of radio communications. Two of the classified documents are at the NSA, the third is probably from the CIA," said Corell.
"I have to believe that, after so many years, they realize that if there's anything that can shed light on what happened, it's about time they did so."