The FBI has seized a videotape that purportedly shows an object speeding toward TWA Flight 800 seconds before the plane exploded, killing all 230 people aboard.
The U.S. District Court in Brooklyn issued a subpoena for the seizure Monday night from the home of retired United Airlines pilot Richard Russell as part of the criminal investigation into the July 17 crash, a source close to the investigation said Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.The tape is to be reviewed by a federal grand jury, possibly as early as Wednesday, the source said, confirming a report published Tuesday in the Press-Enterprise of Riverside, Calif.
Russell, who is conducting his own probe of the crash, said the video was a copy of a Federal Aviation Administration radar tape. He refused to say how he obtained it.
"They took my property away, but that's the way they operate. I knew that they would be doing this. It's a cover-up," Russell said in a telephone interview from his home in Daytona Beach, Fla. "I'm offended by it."
Russell has long supported the theory that a Navy missile brought down the plane off Long Island. He told the AP he wrote the memo that was widely circulated on the Internet as proof of the missile theory. However, no evidence was produced to back up the claims.
On Monday, Russell said he had a copy of the tape. He said it showed a projectile racing toward the jetliner. The newspaper also reported Monday that unexplained blips on the tape may be the track of a missile hurtling toward the plane, and that Russell would make the tape public this week.
Russell, however, said that he did not plan to release the tape, but that a French magazine would publish three frames this week showing a blip closing at high speed on Flight 800.
The FBI and National Transportation Safety Board disputed The Press-Enterprise's claim regarding the cause of the crash. "Such a conclusion is not supported by the evidence gathered to date," the agencies said in a joint statement.
The statement said the investigative team believed the newspaper's account contained "numerous factual and interpretive errors."
The newspaper said sources "inside the investigation" provided the newspaper with FBI and NTSB documents indicating a dummy-warhead missile may have smashed through the plane.
The AP's source said Monday that the investigative team had exhaustively reviewed all of the radar tapes from the night of the explosion and "there was absolutely nothing on any tape showing a missile hitting this airplane."