A US citizen has been released from a Nicaraguan prison after serving nearly two years on drug and money laundering charges. Jason Puracal, 35, was initially sentenced to 22 years, but his conviction was overturned by an appeals court.
Puracal was freed from prison Thursday afternoon, Reuters reports.
A three judge appeals panel revealed Wednesday, to both the prosecution and defense teams, that they had decided to throw out Mr. Puracal's sentence and free him, The AP reports.
In an emailed statement, the panel said the sentencing judge had excluded some of the defense's evidence, and did not clearly explain the reasoning behind the sentencing, Reuters reports.
"There is a sentence and judicial order to free Jason Puracal," Puracal's lawyer Fabbrith Gomez told The Nicaragua Dispatch Thursday.
Mr. Puracal, a former Peace Corps volunteer, was arrested on November 11, 2010, and was sentenced to 22 years in prison on September 20, 2011. He and 10 others were implicated in a drug trafficking ring, and were also accused of laundering money through it.
A website, Facebook page, and Twitter page were all created in the fight for his release. Many humans rights groups believed his sentencing was totally unjust.
Puracal's sister Janis spoke to The AP Thursday about her brother's release.
She said the family had not yet been able to speak to Jason.
The David House Agency, which helped Puracal's family get him justice in the case against him said in a statement that Puracal was "free and clear."
It also said Puracal "would not be making any public statements" or speaking to media about the case.
According to Reuters, it not entirely clear what happens now. A source familiar with the case said Puracal was restricted from leaving Nicaragua's capital, Managua.
Fabbrith Gomez, Puracal's lawyer, painted a bit of a different picture. He said all his client really needed now was some sleep and a shower, The Colombian reports.
He did say his client would be staying in Nicaragua for now, but according to Reuters, he added that Puracal was planning to return to the United States "in coordination with his family."
Before Puracal was released, Nicaraguan Attorney General Julio Centeno revealed to a local television station that his office was contemplating appealing the decision to the Supreme Court. Right now, it's just a thought. Nothing has been confirmed.
Puracal's co-defendants were also released Thursday.