Passengers and crew members of a British Airways flight that was taken hostage in Kuwait in 1990 have initiated legal proceedings against the UK government and the airline, according to a statement from a law firm on Monday.

Those on board BA flight 149, which was en route to Kuala Lumpur, were detained when the plane landed in Kuwait on August 2, 1990, just hours after Iraq's former leader Saddam Hussein invaded the country. Some of the 367 passengers and crew were held captive for over four months, serving as human shields during the first Gulf war to protect against Western attacks on Iraqi forces. Ninety-four individuals have now filed a civil lawsuit at the High Court in London, alleging that both the British government and British Airways deliberately put civilians in harm's way, as stated by McCue Jury & Partners.

The law firm further noted that all plaintiffs endured significant physical and psychological trauma during their captivity, with lasting effects still being felt today. The lawsuit claims that both the UK government and the airline were aware of the invasion but permitted the flight to land regardless, as it was allegedly used to deploy a covert special operations team into occupied Kuwait.

Barry Manners, a passenger on the flight and a claimant in the case, expressed his frustration, stating, "We were not treated as citizens but as expendable pawns for commercial and political gain." He added, "A victory over years of cover-up and bare-faced denial will help restore trust in our political and judicial process."

Documents released by the British government in November 2021 showed that the UK ambassador to Kuwait had informed London about the Iraqi invasion before the flight landed, but this information was not relayed to British Airways. Additionally, there have been allegations, which the government denies, that London knowingly risked passenger safety by using the flight to insert undercover operatives and delayed take-off to accommodate them.

The UK government has declined to comment on the ongoing legal case. British Airways has consistently refuted claims of negligence, conspiracy, and cover-up. The airline did not respond to a request for comment from AFP but maintained last year that the records released in 2021 confirmed that British Airways was not warned about the invasion.

McCue Jury & Partners had previously announced in September their intention to file the lawsuit, suggesting that the hostages could seek an estimated average of £170,000 ($213,000) each in damages. In a separate case in 2003, a French court ruled that British Airways must pay 1.67 million euros to the French hostages of the flight, stating that the airline had gravely neglected its duties by landing the plane.