A federal judge awarded several crew members of the USS Pueblo $65 million for being imprisoned and tortured by the North Korean military in 1968.
A federal judge today awarded more than $65 million to the families of several men who were captured and tortured by North Korean military operatives in 1968. The judgment was against the government of North Korea. In 1996, Congress abolished sovereign immunity for foreign states that the State Department designated as sponsors of terrorism. Thus, victims of state-sponsored terrorist acts can sue foreign governments who sponsored the action. It is unclear how or if the families will be able to recover any damages from the North Korean government as the Communist state likely will not recognize the judgment of an American court.
North Korea never responded to the lawsuit filed by the American crew members. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. entered the judgment against North Korea today.
North Korean military seized the USS Pueblo off North Korea while it was on an intelligence mission. North Korea claimed the USS Pueblo was engaged in espionage in North Korean waters.
One crew member was killed by the North Koreans and several others were tortured for 11 months. In a famous photograph taken by the North Koreans, the crew attempted to show their distress to the outside world by secretly pointing their middle fingers at the camera. The crew was beaten almost daily according to the lawsuit.