WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--More than 100 plaintiffs represented by Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP have filed a federal lawsuit against North Korea in connection with the seizure of the U.S. Navy ship USS Pueblo and the imprisonment of its crew more than 50 years ago.
The case was filed this past week in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act’s terrorism exception. This exception allows victims to sue state sponsors of terrorism for torture, hostage-taking, personal injury or death resulting from its actions or its material support for such actions.
John Doe A-1 et al. v. Democratic People’s Republic of Korea arises out of the capture of 82 crewmen serving on the Pueblo during a mission in international waters off the Korean Peninsula. On January 23, 1968, armed North Korean warships and fighter aircraft surrounded and fired on the ship. One crewman was killed, and the remaining crew were held hostage by North Korea for 11 months. The plaintiffs, which include members of the crew and their families, are seeking damages for the torture, hostage-taking, and/or personal injury they suffered as a result.
“Our clients are seeking to hold North Korea accountable for the unspeakable acts committed against the crew of the USS Pueblo more than 50 years ago and the impact it has had on them and their families since then,” said the plaintiffs’ lawyers at Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp. “Even though they can’t get back that nearly entire year of their lives, they hope this case will finally bring closure to that horrible chapter.”
The Trump Administration re-designated North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism on November 20, 2017, shortly after President Trump’s visit to South Korea and a speech to its parliament in which he highlighted the USS Pueblo incident as part of North Korea’s history of terrorist acts.
North Korea previously was found liable by the D.C. District Court in 2008 for the capture of the Pueblo and its subsequent treatment of its crew during their nearly one year of captivity in Massie v. Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The present case arises out of the same basic facts as Massie, but due to the nature of the claims, plaintiffs are proceeding with the case pseudonymously.
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