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Passengers and Crew Taken Hostage in Kuwait in 1990 Are Suing British Airways and the UK Government For Deliberately Putting Them at Risk

Passengers and Crew Taken Hostage in Kuwait in 1990 Are Suing British Airways and the UK Government For Deliberately Putting Them at Risk

british airways. Photo Credit: Arie Wubben via Unsplash

A group of passengers and crew who were taken hostage in Kuwait by invading Iraqi ground forces at the start of the First Gulf War in August 1990 have started a High Court legal action against British Airways and the UK government.

The 94 passengers and crew who are taking part in the legal action allege that British Airways was complicit with the government when it went ahead and operated flight BA194 to Kuwait City despite warnings that Iraqi forces had already crossed the Kuwaiti border.

The High Court lawsuit will allege that the flight went ahead despite the obvious danger to everyone onboard because the UK government used the civilian flight to insert a covert British military special operations team into Kuwait.

British Airways, the lawsuit says, would have been complicit and known about the secretive operation in order for it to approve the flight.

Flight BA149 departed London Heathrow Airport on the evening of 1st August 1990 and was due to fly to Kuala Lumpur with stopovers in Kuwait and Madras. The Boeing 747 landed in Kuwait City on the morning of 2nd August and was surrounded by Iraqi ground forces who took everyone onboard hostage.;

Some of the hostages were released several weeks later, but it took nearly five months to secure the release of all the hostages. During their captivity, the hostages were used as human shields, and some were forced to appear on television with feared Iraqi leader Saddam Hussain.

367 passengers and crew were taken hostage, and some, lawyers representing the victims claims, were raped, tortured, subjected to mock executions and starved during their time in captivity.

The legal action comes three years after secret government files were made public, revealing that the British ambassador to Kuwait at the time of the invasion warned the British government that Iraqi forces had crossed the border before the plane landed.

Witnesses have claimed that the ‘military-looking’ men were amongst the passengers, and there are even allegations that the plane’s Captain was an MI6 asset.

“The lives and safety of innocent civilians were put at risk by the British government and British Airways for the sake of an off-the-books military operation,” alleges Matthew Jury, Managing Partner of McCue Jury & Partners, which is bringing the legal action.

“Both have, we believe, concealed and denied the truth for more than thirty years,” Jury continued. “The victims and survivors of Flight BA149 deserve justice for being treated as disposable collateral. His Majesty’s Government and BA watched on as children were paraded as human shields by a ruthless dictator, yet they did and admitted nothing. There must be closure and accountability to erase this shameful stain on the UK’s conscience.”

British Airways did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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