Statement by Ben Torrey, U.S. Director of the Committee, Concerning the Whereabouts of Passengers and Crew From Korean Air Lines Flight
February 14, 2002
Following the landing of KAL 007 and the rescue of passengers and crew by the Soviet KGB Coast Guard, everyone was taken to the KGB Coast Guard base on the Sakhalin. Within a few days (by September 4, 1983), they were taken to the KGB base at Soveteskaja Gavan on the Siberian mainland opposite Sakhalin, roughly 600 miles north of Vladivostok. Here the men, women and children were divided into separate groups. The men and women were taken by train to Tynda on the Baikal-Amur Railway about 800 miles inland where at least some were put to forced labor. We know of one female passenger who was later moved to an obscure village north of the Arctic Circle. It is likely that others were moved away to isolated locations as well. The male adults were, at some point, distributed to a number of different camps throughout Siberia some of which were camps that also held American POWs and other foreign prisoners.
Congressman Lawrence P. McDonald, Democrat, 7th District, Georgia, was separated from the rest of the passengers and taken by special air transport to Moscow on or about Sept. 8, 1983 where he was interrogated at length then eventually moved to Karaganda in Kazakhstan.
The child passengers were kept in Sovetskaja Gavan in a specially established isolated temporary orphanage until the end of October. They were then gradually transferred to various orphanages in Vladivostock, Omsk, Barnaul and Kazakhstan based on their racial identity. The intent was to assimilate them into the predominant racial populations in these areas. At least one is thought to have received medical training in Vladivostok.
We call for the Russian government to conduct a thorough investigation of their records and of the records of these camps so as to locate the present whereabouts of these men and women who were so tragically wrenched out of their private lives and the lives of those who loved them. We call for the return of our lost loved ones.
We call on our own government and on President Bush to open a thorough investigation of this matter and to seek the full cooperation of the Russian government in this matter.
In relation to this, we will, this day, present hundreds of petitions addressed to Presidents Bush and Putin to this effect.