U.S. Court Rules Syrian Government Responsible for Kidnapping of American in Turkey

Saturday, January 05, 2013
Ron Wyatt during 1977 Noah's Ark expedition

The government of Syria has been ordered by a U.S. federal court to pay $338 million in damages for supporting a terrorist group that kidnapped Americans two decades ago.


One of those kidnapped, Marvin Wilson, sued the Syrian government along with the family of Ronald Wyatt, who died of cancer several years after their release from the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), a Kurdish nationalist group in Turkey that has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department since 1997.


The two men were part of an archeology expedition searching for remains of Noah’s Ark in Turkey when, in August 1991, members of the PKK captured and held them for three weeks.


The plaintiffs sued the Damascus government claiming it had allowed the PKK to operate from Syrian territory, and provided financial support and training to the terrorist group.


District Court Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that Syria was “vicariously liable” for the kidnapping, and ordered the government to pay $38 million in compensatory damages to the plaintiffs and another $300 million in punitive damages.


“The brutal character of the kidnapping in this case, the significant harm it caused both the hostage plaintiffs and their families, along with Syria’s demonstrated and well known policy to encourage terrorism all merit an award of punitive damages,” Lamberth wrote.


During their ordeal, Wilson and Wyatt were force-marched for 18 hours and repeatedly beaten by their captors, according to the plaintiffs.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Shurat Hadin Law Center Wins $338 Million Judgment Against Syrian Government Over Kidnapping Of US Citizens By Kurdish Terrorists PKK (Israel Law Center)

Aiding Kidnappers Will Cost Syria $338 Million (by Rose Bouboushian, Courthouse News Service)

US Court Fines Syria For PKK Act (Hürriyet Daily News)

Mary Nell Wyatt v. Syrian Arab Republic (U.S. District Court, District of Columbia) (pdf)


Enrique Ferro 11 years ago
For all the respect for the victims, the judge's argument is rubbish: "along with Syria’s demonstrated and well known policy to encourage terrorism". Certainly Syria has been the victim of terrorism for decades, so for it to be singled out as the bogeyman exposes a political purpose. The PKK had its own policies, and Turkey should have been blamed far more, as the group has been a Turkish-originated group. On the other hand, if the PKK has been labelled by the US a terrorist group in 1997, how can Syria be blamed of dealing with a terrorist group in 1991, when the facts happened, far away from the Syrian border (the Arara mountain is on the border with Armenia)? The judge must be playing for a promotion, and it must have occurred to him that combining the words Syria" and "terrorism" is a quick fix. His gossip-based argument has apparently a goal: To make merits himself in the present climax to demonize Syria. He only misunderstood the equation: Syria is actually very much along with terrorism, but suffering its scourge, and "the policy to encourage terrorism" is run by the United States of America.

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