43 Members of Congress Petition Nicaraguan President to Reconsider Jason Puracal's Wrongful Conviction
Jason Puracal has spent 18 months in Nicaraguan prison on false charges. Today, 43 members of the United Sates House of Representatives sent a letter urging Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to order an independent review of his case.
The letter is being increasingly picked up by global media:
Effort to free Tacoman in Nicaraguan prison gains steam| The Seattle Times
43 U.S. Reps ask Ortega to review Jason Puracal case | Nicaragua Dispatch
U.S. Congress urges Nicaragua's Ortega to review Puracal case | MyNorthwest.com
Please see below for the full press release.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
David House Agency
On behalf of the Puracal Family
Washington, DC (May 10, 2012) – Forty-three members of the United States House of Representatives have sent a letter urging Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to order an independent review of the case of Jason Puracal – an American citizen who has been wrongly imprisoned for 18 months in Nicaragua.
Jason Puracal is an American citizen, a husband, a dad and a business owner. International human rights attorneys who have represented Nelson Mandela, Václav Havel and Aung San Suu Kyi believe that he is an innocent man. The California Innocence Project, which reviews claims of more than 2,000 imprisoned people each year, has adopted Puracal’s case as one of ten it selects annually based on its stringent criteria to only take cases where there is “actual evidence of factual innocence.”
Puracal’s due process rights under Nicaraguan law were violated and there was no credible evidence presented at trial. The prosecution’s police witnesses testified that they did not recover drugs in his possession, his office, home, or truck. He was denied the opportunity to present key witnesses in his defense, to access exculpatory evidence, or conduct confidential communications with his attorney. Additionally, Artola Narvaez, the presiding judge in Puracal’s trial, was not a qualified lawyer and possessed none of the qualifications required to be a presiding judge.
Congressman Adam Smith, who represents Puracal’s family in Seattle, initiated the letter and helped attract bipartisan support. The letter to President Ortega is available here.
Puracal lives in a 12 x 15 foot cell with eight other men and has been denied edible food and potable water throughout his imprisonment. He has lost more than 30 pounds and suffers from numerous medical problems. A campaign to free Puracal was recently launched on Change.org, the popular social action platform behind the recent Trayvon Martin petition. The petition drive has delivered more than 86,000 e-mails to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Nicaragua Minister of Foreign Affairs Samuel Santos. For more information, please visit www.freejasonp.com