One of the strangest stories to emerge from the wreckage of Malaysian Airlines flight from Amsterdam that was downed in Eastern Ukraine involves a purported Spanish air traffic controller working in Kiev and known only by his blog name—Carlos—and Twitter handle, @spainbuca.
As soon as the plane went down, Carlos started tweeting about how it was shot down by the “Kiev authorities, trying to make it look it might be an attack by pro-Russian forces.”
Carlos also reported that the Ukraine military had taken over the air traffic control tower in Kiev; that before the airliner was shot down, it was being shadowed by two Ukrainian fighter planes; that a military report indicated that the missile’s firing location had been traced back to an area that was not “in the rebel zone” and so on.
One message after the other piled on the idea that it was the Ukrainian government that had shot down the airplane, not the pro-Russian rebels.
Another tweet by Carlos: “Before they take away my teleph or break my head, [it was] shot down by Kiev.”
Then Thursday afternoon, Carlos’ Twitter account was mysteriously taken down and his blog page went dark. It was first reported on RT en Español, a Spanish-language video and Internet arm of the Russian RIA Novosti news agency.
But there are serious questions about Carlos’ identity.
The Spain Report, an English-language online newspaper based in that country, contacted the Spanish embassy in Kiev asking about Carlos and was told, “We have no knowledge of ‘Carlos’ having been in Ukraine. There is no record of his passing through the Consulate, and no one from the (relatively small) Spanish colony knows him.”
The statement went on to say that all of the air traffic controllers at the airport where he claimed to work “are Ukranian, and that in any case they have never employed any Spaniard for that or any other task [at the airport].”
Thursday was not the first time that Carlos had caused a blip on the international media radar.
In May, during earlier violence in the Ukraine, the Maidan revolt, Carlos gave an interview to RT en Español.
His face was blurred out to preserve his anonymity, and he described receiving threats from the pro-government forces because he wrote critical stories about the Ukrainian regime that he posted online. He was warned, he said, that his family was in danger.
Within 24 hours, he said, he had shipped his wife and daughter out of the country.