A US citizen serving a 22-year prison sentence in Nicaragua for drug trafficking and money laundering who a United Nations group has said was wrongly convicted has been granted an appeals hearing, his supporters announced on Wednesday.
Jason Puracal, 35, was detained by Nicaraguan authorities in November 2010 and later found guilty by a trial judge along with 10 Nicaraguan co-defendants despite their testimony that they had never met or worked with Puracal, his legal team said. It added that the prosecution's own witnesses said he was innocent.
Puracal has become a cause célèbre for human rights activists in the United States and around the world, with US lawmakers appealing to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and a former high-ranking US Drug Enforcement Administration official launching a massive petition drive on Puracal's behalf.
"The 11-month wait for Jason's hearing is over. The one-year anniversary of his conviction will be Aug. 29, and we really hope to have him home by then. We're optimistic, and we just ask that people continue to stay engaged," said Eric Volz, founder of an international crisis resource group called the David House Agency that has been helping push for Puracal's release.