FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Relatives of KAL 007 Victims Want Answers
Will Petition Bush and Putin
February 14, 2002 -- Relatives of passengers aboard Korean Airlines Flight 007 who disappeared when it was hit by a missile from a Soviet fighter in 1983 will brief reporters at 10:00 a.m. on February 14 at the Army & Navy Club, 901 17th St., N.W., Washington, DC. They will present evidence that the Soviet claim that all aboard died when the plane crashed into the ocean near Sakhalin Island on August 31, 1983 is false. After the briefing they will deliver to the White House and the Russian Embassy petitions, signed by hundreds, addressed to President Bush and President Vladimir Putin. The petitions ask them to find out what happened to the 269 men, women and children aboard the plane.
In December 1991, Senator Jesse Helms wrote to President Boris Yeltsin, pointing out that 256 of them had vanished without a trace. The Russians found the remains of only thirteen at most. Senator Helms asked Yeltsin to explain what happened to the rest. If they were killed, why was there no trace of them and their personal belongings in the largely intact cabin found in relatively shallow water on the ocean floor. Senator Helms wanted to know what happened to those people. If they died, where are their bodies? If they survived, where are they?
The following summer, on June 17, 1992, President Yeltsin revealed the existence of a KGB memo reporting the existence of documents related to KAL 007 that “are so well concealed that it is doubtful that… those who come after us will be able to find them.” Why haven’t these documents be made public?
The relatives and friends of those who disappeared want President Bush and Congress to renew Senator Helm’s request to Russia for answers. They find it shocking that the Reagan, first Bush, and Clinton administrations did nothing to find the answers to the questions that Senator Helms posed. Sixty-one American citizens, including Congressman Larry McDonald, a Democrat from Georgia, nationally known for his strong anti-communist views, are among those who vanished without a trace. The relatives hope that President Bush will heed their request, backed by hundreds who have signed petitions asking him to press President Putin to provide answers.
The principal presenter at the news conference will be Bert Schlossberg, a scholar living in Israel and son-in-law to passenger Alfred Cruz. He has spent ten years researching this case. His book, Rescue 007, The Untold Story of KAL 007 and its Survivors, Xlibris 2001, presents strong evidence that nearly all those aboard the plane survived. He found that the cockpit voice recorder showed that the Soviet fighter pilot who reported destroying the target was wrong. He had launched two missiles. He assumed wrongly that the heat seeker had destroyed an engine—it missed. The other missile, which had a proximity fuse, detonated about 50 meters from the fuselage and tore a small hole in the rear of the cabin. The cockpit voice recorder tape, kept secret by the Soviets for many years, revealed that the flight engineer reported all four engines functioning normally after the missiles were fired. The cabin did decompress, but oxygen masks deployed automatically and the plane made a rapid but controlled descent to the altitude where oxygen masks would not be required.
Japanese and Soviet radar showed the plane progressively slowing down as it descended until it went below 1000 feet and was off the radar screen. Schlossberg found no evidence that it broke up when it hit the water. He believes it ditched successfully near Sakhalin. No big pieces of wreckage, no baggage and no bodies were found floating on the ocean. No life jackets were ever found.
The passengers had at least twelve minutes to don life jackets and take off their shoes in preparation for ditching. Schlossberg says Soviet military radio intercepts show that high-level Soviet commanders were angry and frustrated that KAL 007 was not destroyed and ordered all ships in the area launch a rescue effort where the plane was last seen coming down. He says ships arrived within thirty minutes after the plane hit the water. He believes nearly all aboard survived and the Soviets sent them to prisons and special labor camps. These innocent people committed no crime, but they are serving life sentences and will continue to do so unless President Putin can be persuaded to set them free. If he claims that they are all dead, President Bush should demand to know what was done with the 256 bodies that were not found in the ocean or trapped in the sunken plane.
For More Information Contact:
The International Committee for the Rescue of KAL 007 Survivors, Inc.
P.O. Box 43, South Windsor, CT 06074