Monday, September 17, 2012

Out Of Nicaraguan Carcel Hole

September 17th, 2012
07:42 AM ET

.. David Puente reports.

Tonight on AC360: Exclusive interview with American freed from Nicaraguan 'hellhole'

Jason Puracal reunites with his family in the United States.

In an exclusive interview at 8 and 10 p.m. ET, Anderson Cooper talks to Jason Puracal about his imprisonment in La Modelo, one of the world's most notorious prisons, for charges he calls unfounded.

Puracal, 35, a native of Washington state who had been imprisoned for nearly two years in Nicaragua left the country Friday, a day after he was set free, and was reunited with his wife, son, mother and sisters in the U.S. on Sunday.

He had been serving a 22-year sentence for drug-related crimes and was one of 12 people whose charges were vacated, according to his legal team and a judicial order signed Wednesday that the team gave to CNN.

Since his arrest in 2011, Puracal had many defenders who said the charges were baseless. They included human rights activists, international attorneys, a U.N. body, a former FBI investigator and a U.S. congressman.

In June, Puracal spoke by phone with Anderson, saying he was imprisoned in a "hellhole" and that he was "100 percent innocent." He described the harsh living conditions with makeshift beds in 12-by-15-foot cells occupied by 9 to 12 people.

"It's hot; it's dirty; it's festy. There's lots of insects, including chiggers and ants and mosquitoes. There's no running water. I have to fight every day to get your two buckets of water. There's no good food. We get rice and beans three times a day, and it has a bicarbonate added to it to make the prisoners feel full, so I can't even eat this stuff. Right now I survive on crackers and peanuts and raisins," he said.

Wednesday's court order resulted from an appeal hearing that concluded this summer, in which his legal team argued for his release. Puracal also addressed the court to express his love for Nicaragua after volunteering there for the Peace Corps, and to reiterate his firm belief that the charges against him were lies.

Find out more about the case and listen to Puracal's call from prison in June:

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