Bellingcat is an investigative journalism website set up by the British citizen journalist and blogger Eliot Higgins. It began with Higgins combing through videos of the Syrian conflict and identifying the weapons being used in them, something that saw him prove the use of cluster munitions and chemical weapons by the Assad regime. Using open-source data, social media, and a range of other investigative tools and techniques, Bellingcat has continued to shine a light on the arsenals of different factions in the conflict, in addition to countering false claims by Russia, an ally of the Assad regime.
As Bellingcat grew, it also expanded its horizons beyond Syria, identifying the missile used in the downing of flight MH17 in Ukraine, the people behind the poisoning of Sergei, and Yulia Skripal in the UK, and the weapons being used in Yemen’s civil war. It has staff and contributors in more than 20 countries, utilising citizen journalism and open data to highlight human rights abuses.
Bellingcat’s work has been covered by numerous publications worldwide including the BBC, the Guardian, the New York Times, and the New Yorker. The organisation is currently working with the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Technology Advisory Board to help them understand how to utilise open-source investigations, and it has also met with the UN’s International Independent and Impartial Mechanism (IIIM) on Syria. The team has won numerous awards including the Hanns Joachim Friedrichs Prize in 2015, the European Press Prize for Innovation in 2017, the Ars Electronica Prize for Digital Communities in 2018, the European Press Prize for Investigation in 2019, and the London Press Club Award for Digital Journalism in 2019.
Bellingcat believes strongly in partnerships and its team also provides training and workshops to other organisations, in addition to helping verify or debunk claims that have arisen around ongoing conflicts. A film about Bellingcat, ‘Bellingcat: Truth in a Post-Truth World’, won an International Emmy in 2018.