American to be freed from Nicaraguan prison after nearly two years
“I don't know the reason that I'm here," Jason Puracal has said.
September 12th, 2012
09:05 PM ET

American to be freed from Nicaraguan prison after nearly two years

By Ashley Fantz, CNN

An American who has been imprisoned for nearly two years in Nicaragua will be freed Thursday, and all the charges he was convicted of will be vacated, according to members of his legal team and a judicial order they gave to CNN.

Jason Puracal, a 35-year old native of Washington state, had been serving a 22-year sentence for drug-related crimes in one of the Latin American country's most notorious prisons. He is one of 12 people ordered freed.

Since his arrest in 2011, Puracal had many vocal defenders who said the charges were baseless and there was not a shred of evidence presented at his trial to support the charges. Those defenders included prominent human rights activists, renown international attorneys, a former FBI investigator and a U.S. congressman. 

Why defenders believe Puracal is innocent

As his attorneys got word of the release order, it was unclear if Puracal was aware that he was to be a free man, said his attorney Jared Genser.

“We are trying to get word to Jason, but it’s after hours in the prison,” he said. “But we can say this is very, very good news, and we’re pleased that justice can be had in Nicaragua.”

In August, Puracal spoke by phone with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, saying he has been imprisoned in a “hellhole” and that he was “100 percent innocent.”

“I don't know the reason that I'm here," Puracal said. "That's been a mystery from the very beginning. What the motives behind the police and the prosecution have been." 

Wednesday’s order from the court was the result of an appeal hearing that concluded earlier this summer in which Puracal’s legal team argued for his release.

"The family is thrilled to hear the news that they are another huge step closer to bringing Jason home. There is one thing we have known all along over the past two years: Jason is innocent," said Eric Volz, a spokesman for Puracal's family

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Filed under: Nicaragua • TV-Anderson Cooper 360
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. ABCD

    Congrats!!! Jason and Eric Volz, both wrongly convicted and both spent many years in jail, for no reason.

    September 12, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • jqent

      Ah, but they were Americans! That's the reason.

      September 12, 2012 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mary

    This being a farce from top to bottom could not be more accurate in this case.
    No drugs being found
    Even the co-defendants told the judge they never met him.
    The money in his account all came from legitimate escrow accounts involving legitimate buyers and legitimate t itles

    Is this the worst court system I've ever heard of? By far... Yes !
    Congradulations Jason.

    September 12, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      Nothing like this has ever happened in the good old US of A?

      September 12, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • dean

      After living in South America for over 10 years, I would say Jason is a lucky guy today and I would use my new found freedom to get some great tips on living abroad.safely.

      September 13, 2012 at 2:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      @ PT, Yes, corruption in American court systems happens on a daily basis ... I got carried away with hearing all the evidence in front of that Judge only to turn a blind eye and throw the poor kid in jail for two years...

      September 13, 2012 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. lagunaapoyorealestate

    congrats Jason! And Eric, still waiting for the who done it.

    September 13, 2012 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jim

    I don't think this guy is 100% American. I will need to see his birth certificate

    September 13, 2012 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  5. bigote

    There are others in similar situations in Nicaragua right now. It is all about seizing property, and has happened to many foreigners. I guarantee that someone finally arrived with a suitcase full of money and bribed the court to release him. It is the way things are done there. I lived as an ex-pat in Nicaragua and had to flee to keep this from happening to me. Friends of mine are now imprisoned falsely there and all their land and property has been seized. There have been 15 major cases of this in the last 4 years alone involving millions of dollars in cash and assets. The government is extremely corrupt, and justice is for sale in Nicaragua. Even the last and current US Ambassadors have warned against investment there because of this. People are falsely accused and convicted on no evidence and then lose everything.

    September 13, 2012 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Kyle

      It is amazing how individuals often don't take the time to read those State Department/Embassy warnings before going to, or while living in another nation. As an expat, one word of advice to those who will/do live in another nation: Take the time, especially when they warn about specific, detailed situations that apply to you – it beats having to learn it from experience.

      I bet you are like me (seeing as you said you had to flee), and had to learn from experience, before realizing that those alerts were no joke.

      Seriously people, read them. If you read them and say "Do I want this happening to me?", instead of "Oh, that will never happen to me." you will save yourself a lot of headaches.

      September 13, 2012 at 2:05 am | Report abuse |
  6. bspurloc

    mittens called in to foxnews to take credit for his and bashing Obama for not sending troops in....

    September 13, 2012 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  7. Lissette

    I was born in Nicaragua, and would not go back. I am now an American citizen and wouldn't go back there for a myriad of reasons, including treatment of American citizens. When are people going to learn about traveling to "exotic" locales?

    September 13, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • ding

      I would be curious to find out when you were born. Perhaps the eighties?

      Things are far different now.
      Yes, there is corruption.

      But, Nicaragua is far safer than anywhere else in Cento America...
      Which for those who have never been outside their comfort zone means little..

      Until you take into account that the crime rate in Nicaragua (per capita-I know it's a small country) is far less than the U.S. and Europe combined.

      We have petty thefts, sure. And government corruption, of course.

      But, I can tell you, as someone borne in the U.S. and living in Nicaragua, these things are petty compared to what is going on elsewhere.

      The reputation that Nicaragua has gotten in the U.S.A. is largely perpetuated by these stories that harken back to the carefree 80's when Ortega was perceived as a threat and Reagan was some kind of god.

      The Sandinistas resisted the U.S.' rule, resisted allegiance with a corrupt war-mongering government, and were therefore labeled a threat.

      I am sorry you feel like you can't go home.

      Nicaragua is one of the most beautiful and friendly places I have ever been.

      It's too bad the only stories that make it to the U.S. news are those that convey corruption and/violence.

      It is certainly not the norm...
      But hey! That's the news.

      September 18, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Lissette

    I meant, even to visit, much less live there.

    September 13, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  9. Havanabama

    Finally. Now get out of there and don't look back. Nicaragua had some promise a few yeras ago, but Ortaga is becoming or is like Chavez and Castro.. Also sorry for the poor citizen of Nica, they desire a better governemnt, but don't hold your breath, just go to Costa Rica!!! I do!

    September 13, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • ding

      Yes!
      Go to Costa Rico!!!
      We accept your rich, your unoriginal..Your khaki pants!

      September 18, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Roelof

    Money talks.. Mostly works in those corrupt countries.

    September 13, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. viejo

    and the next episode of LOCKED UP ABROAD coming right up...

    September 13, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. calvin

    I lived in Central America for 16 years, and I can tell you the "legal system" (police, courts, etc) does whatever it wants with nothing to back it up, they just do it because they can. My mother once got a ticket for turning right on red even though the arrow on the light clearly indicated she could do it. She asked the police about it and he just said "Ma'am, I do whatever the heck I want." And they can stop you for no reason and even impound your car for no reason...just because they can.

    September 13, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. key76

    Well that is a shame that all of these beutiful country are so sick like this and to be able to get away with taking your money and things that are rightfully yours is why musslim are doing the things they are doing to the usa thanks old bush and even the older bush you two did the usa proud.

    September 13, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      The majority of Nicaraguans are Roman Catholic.
      Muslims have nothing to do with this story.
      For that matter, neither do Catholics.

      September 13, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      If I understand your post correctly, you're saying that Because the USA, Bush family, and the Jews have all contributed to the wrongs that have been done them.
      I think the history is there to back up your post 76...

      September 14, 2012 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
  14. Murray

    "Claim" to be christian Catholics, rather. The proof is in the pudding, not in what someone says is in the pudding.

    September 13, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      There is absolutely no evidence of Muslim activity in Nicaragua, which is what I was commenting on.

      September 13, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      And can you connect what happened to this young man to ANY religion at all, Murray?
      It's the government that imprisoned him, not Islam or Catholicism.

      September 13, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Murray

    Of course Nazis weren't really christian Catholics. (duh) They just claimed to be in order to garner support from other phonies.
    Daniel Noriega, for this thread. (and just about every crooked central american leader ever...even some from up north. :)

    September 13, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay in Florida

      I absolutely love your deep knowledge of the country being discussed. Daniel ORTEGA would be the President of Nicaragua, while Manuel NORIEGA would be the deposed military leader of Panama. I bet you also think Canada is another area code, and you don't even know the name of three counties of your own State.

      September 13, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
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