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Feds Awarded North Korean Cargo Ship

Wise Honest likely to end up as scrap
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 22, 2019 3:16 AM CDT
This photo released by the US Justice Dept, Thursday, May 9, 2019, shows the North Korean cargo ship Wise Honest.   (Department of Justice via AP, File)
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(Newser) – A North Korean cargo ship seized earlier this year for allegedly violating sanctions is now the property of the United States government. A federal court in New York ordered for the Wise Honest to be forfeited to the US government and for the Treasury Department to "dispose" of it, AFP reports. "This order of forfeiture sinks the Wise Honest’s career as one of North Korea’s largest sanctions-busting vessels," says Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. The 17,000-ton ship was seized on its way to Indonesia with a cargo of coal in May. Authorities say it was also illegally used to smuggle heavy equipment into North Korea.

The ship would have become federal property earlier, but in July, the parents of Otto Warmbier, who died after 17 months in North Korean custody and relatives of the Rev. Dong Shik Kim, who was tortured and executed in the country, filed legal claims asking for it to be sold to pay for court judgments against Pyongyang, NBC reports. Authorities say Warmbier's parents voluntarily withdrew their claim to allow forfeiture. But there may not be a ship left for the Treasury Department to dispose of: the Navy Times reports that the 30-year-old ship was sold earlier this month and left Pago Pago after it was released by American authorities following an auction. It was reportedly sold for scrap. (Read more North Korea stories.)

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