BEIJING – The Chinese military on Tuesday refuted a report that Chinese intelligence officials were allowed by Pakistan to photograph the crashed US Blackhawk helicopter from the Osama bin Laden raid and take wreckage samples to research.
According to a press release sent to China Daily from the Information Affairs Bureau at the Ministry of National Defense, such reports are “groundless and ridiculous”.
The Financial Times reported on Sunday that Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence gave China access to the previously unknown “stealth helicopter that crashed during the commando raid that killed Bin Laden in May, despite explicit requests from the Central Intelligence Agency not to do so.”
During the raid, one of two modified Blackhawk helicopters, believed to employ secret stealth capability, malfunctioned and crashed, forcing the commandos to abandon it.
The newspaper quoted a person “in intelligence circles” as saying that Pakistan, which enjoys a close relationship with China, allowed Chinese intelligence officials to take pictures of the crashed chopper as well as take samples of its special “skin” that allowed the US raid to evade Pakistani radar.
US Navy SEALs reportedly tried to destroy the helicopter after it crashed at Bin Laden’s compound on May 2, but the tail section of the aircraft remained largely intact.
“We had explicitly asked the Pakistanis in the immediate aftermath of the raid not to let anyone have access to the damaged remains of the helicopter,” the Financial Times quoted the source as saying.
In an incident such as the helicopter crash, it is standard US procedure to destroy sophisticated technology such as encrypted communications and navigation computers.
A senior Pakistani security official denied the report and pointed out that the wreckage had been handed back to US officials shortly after the raid.
“It’s just speculation. It’s all false. The wreckage was handed back. There is no helicopter left (in Pakistan),” the official told AFP.
The US officials cautioned that they did not have definitive proof that the Chinese visited the town of Abbottabad where Bin Laden was killed.
They also said Pakistani officials denied showing the advanced helicopter technology to any other foreign government.
Pakistani military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas also rejected the report in a statement late on Monday.
Abbas criticized foreign media for “launching a malicious campaign against Pakistan’s security organizations” and urged them to verify and cross-check information rather than relying on “unnamed officials”.