Steven Sotloff "traveled to the Mideast to over the suffering of Muslims at the hands of tyrants," according to a lawsuit filed by the family. UPI File Photo
WASHINGTON, April 19 (UPI) -- The family of slain journalist Steven Sotloff is suing Syria, claiming the government supported the Islamic State militants who beheaded the man.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in Washington, D.C., seeks $90 million in compensatory damages and up to three times that in punitive damages for Sotloff's beheading in 2014. He was kidnapped in August 2013 after crossing into Syria from Turkey. The video of the beheading was distributed around the world.
According to the suit, Sotloff was a "loyal and generous son, brother and grandson. He is an honorable man and has always tried to help the weak."
The Islamic State released a letter it claims was written by the Miami native to his mother.
The family claims the basis for the suit is that the Islamic State "greatly benefits from the material support provided by the Syrian Arab Republic."
Damages are sought to punish the defendant for "its conduct in supporting the murderous acts described herein and to serve notice that the rule of law can and will be used to deter state sponsorship of terrorism against citizens of the United States of America. Defendants' outrageous actions cannot be tolerated by a civilized society and deserves the harshest condemnation of our ordered legal system."
The family has retained Perles law firm in Washington.
Sotloff was part of a team of journalists that returned to Benghazi, Libya, after the attack on the U.S. Embassy compound. He also covered civil war in Syria.
The suit says, "traumatized victims of these civil wars, normally wary of journalists, would open up to Steven."