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Jason Puracal: Indescribable To Be Reunited With Family

Derek Wang

A Tacoma man who was imprisoned in Nicaragua for almost two years says he cannot describe how it feels to be reunited with his whole family. Jason Puracal is now back in the Pacific Northwest after being released from prison last week.


Jason Puracal moved to Nicaragua in 2002. Now he doesn't know if he'll ever go back.

Puracal: "I went to Nicaragua 10 years ago as a Peace Corps volunteer. I met my wife there, she's Nicaraguan, my son was born there, and Nicaragua will always hold a special place in my heart. Like I said, right now, we're just focusing on moving forward in life."

Puracal is trying to move forward from the events that started in November 2010. He had finished his stint in the Peace Corps and was running a real estate business, when he was arrested. Puracal was accused of helping drug traffickers, something he categorically denies.

He still remembers when the authorities came to his office.

Puracal: "Guys with masks and assault rifles came storming in, another gentleman came storming in with a police badge around his neck. He asked for me by name, he had me sit on my sofa, for the next seven or eight hours he would not let me speak to anyone, not let me make any phone calls."

Authorities alleged they found drug residue in his car. Puracal maintains that he was innocent. He said the drug residue could have come from the police who had rounded up multiple people that day.

Puracal: "When the police finally took me from my office to the police station in San Juan del Sur, they put me in the back of a pickup truck. And they drove my truck from my office to the police station. Then they put me in a cell for several hours, they brought me back out, they put me in the truck, they did the drug–sniffing dog, which didn't show anything."

During Puracal's trial, he was not allowed to refute evidence that was used against him. Eventually he was sentenced to 22 years in prison. While in prison he says he was often denied food, water and medical attention.

Some members of Congress and the United Nations voiced support for Puracal. In May, the UN's human rights office said Puracal's detainment was arbitrary and called for his release.

Then last week, he won on appeal and was freed. Puracal and his family are now in the Pacific Northwest. He says he hopes to pursue a master's degree.

I'm Derek Wang, KUOW News.

© Copyright 2012, KUOW

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