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U.S., Soviets Lied About Plane

Former Official to Dispute Story of Korean Airliner Downing

By Marion B. Gammill, Crimson Staff Writer

Both the Soviet and the United States governments misled the public about a Korean commercial airliner downed in 1983, a former State Department official will say in a speech at Harvard tonight.

John Keppel '40, a Foreign Service Officer from 1947-1969, is scheduled to deliver "the Story Behind the Downing of Korean Airlines Flight 007" at 7:30 p.m. in the Starr Auditorium.

The talk has already caught the attention of local media.

Keppel said yesterday that he will present the result of his nine-year investigation into the destruction of the aircraft, which killed 269 passengers and crew.

Keppel's interest was piqued by the improbability of the official positions on the crash of the plane, which was off course over Soviet territory.

"The Soviets said the Korean aircraft flew off course on intelligence purposes, [while] the U.S. said it flew off innocently. However, both governments implied similar things: that the plane was alone when it flew off, that it was alone when it was shot down and that it was shot down off of [Soviet island] Sakhalin," said Keppel, who once served in Moscow.

He said that the began to doubt the two governments' claims after reading a book on the catastrophe entitled KAL 007: The Cover-Up and speaking with French aviation expert Michel Brun, who was in Japan at the time of the crash.

"I now believe three basic propositions," said Keppel. "One, that the airliner was the companion of several military aircraft, Two, that several of these [aircraft] were down off Sakhalin. Three,that the Korean aircraft escaped the Soviets andwas shot down for reasons unclear."

He said that after examining debris found inthe area and listening to communications from KAL007 he now believes that the airplane was headedto the island of Niigata.

According to Keppel, the results of hisanalysis of voice transmissions from the aircraft,which he will present at the lecture to night,show that the plane flew for 45 minutes after itwas supposedly shot down.

He also said that he no longer believes thatthe Soviets shot down the plane. "It seems to havebeen destroyed suddenly, without any warning, butwe don't know what happened to it. I find it hardto believe that the Soviets would have shot itdown 400 miles from Soviet territory," Keppelsaid.

However, he said that he will not try toconclude why the plane was destroyed. "I'm goingto speak directly of it with graphics," saidKeppel. "I'm not going to speculate on thepurpose, the meaning or the motives at the sametime."

Harold Ewing, an airline pilot with 25 years ofexperience flying a similar route to that of KAL007, is also scheduled to speak at the discussion,which is sponsored by the IOP Projects Committeeand the Harvard Law School chapter of the NationalLawyers Guild

He said that after examining debris found inthe area and listening to communications from KAL007 he now believes that the airplane was headedto the island of Niigata.

According to Keppel, the results of hisanalysis of voice transmissions from the aircraft,which he will present at the lecture to night,show that the plane flew for 45 minutes after itwas supposedly shot down.

He also said that he no longer believes thatthe Soviets shot down the plane. "It seems to havebeen destroyed suddenly, without any warning, butwe don't know what happened to it. I find it hardto believe that the Soviets would have shot itdown 400 miles from Soviet territory," Keppelsaid.

However, he said that he will not try toconclude why the plane was destroyed. "I'm goingto speak directly of it with graphics," saidKeppel. "I'm not going to speculate on thepurpose, the meaning or the motives at the sametime."

Harold Ewing, an airline pilot with 25 years ofexperience flying a similar route to that of KAL007, is also scheduled to speak at the discussion,which is sponsored by the IOP Projects Committeeand the Harvard Law School chapter of the NationalLawyers Guild

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