Bellingcat Receives Three-Year Grant From Dutch Postcode Lottery

Amsterdam, the Netherlands (8 April, 2021): Today, Bellingcat, the award winning open source investigative collective, announces that it has received a three year grant from the Dutch Postcode Lottery

Bellingcat has become known for its work around the downing of flight MH17, revealing the identities of the FSB team involved in the poisoning of Alexei Navalny and uncovering evidence of chemical weapons strikes in Syria

The grant will help Bellingcat expand its work globally, with a particular focus on improving open source reporting on environmental issues as well as advancing legal accountability. 

The potential for open source material to uncover instances of environmental misconduct was recently emphasised by Bellingcat researcher Foeke Postma’s investigation into the underground wildlife trade in Dubai — a lucrative industry that can cause serious harm to animals. 

By identifying tigers by their stripes and markings, Bellingcat managed to follow and track cubs that were used, potentially illegally, as props by celebrities and influencers for Instagram photoshoots. Rappers, movie stars, business magnates, TV-presenters, models, vloggers and even Dutch soccer stars, it transpired, had all posted images of themselves posing with exotic animals. 

The grant will also look to further explore how open source material can be used as evidence in national and international courts. 

Open source evidence has the potential to hold perpetrators of crimes accountable, specifically in the likes of conflict zones where on the ground collection of evidence is challenging. But there are currently no standards for the use and admissibility of open source evidence in courts. 

To advance legal accountability, Bellingcat, together with legal partner the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), aims to develop and standardize a methodology for open source research and test its admissibility in Dutch courts. 

Although founded in the UK in 2014, Bellingcat was registered as a Dutch foundation in 2018. It is headquartered in the Netherlands with staff based around the world.

The Dutch Postcode Lottery was founded in 1989, raising funds for charities while publicising their work.

Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins said: “Our work surrounding MH17 and subsequent move to the Netherlands means we will always have a strong connection with our Dutch audience which is why we are grateful that we can benefit from the support of Dutch participants of the postcode lottery.”