Puracal case takes turn with human rights lawsuit

Jason Puracal was found guilty of money laundering, drug trafficking and organized crime by a Nicaraguan court on Aug. 29, 2011. - Courtesy photo
Jason Puracal was found guilty of money laundering, drug trafficking and organized crime by a Nicaraguan court on Aug. 29, 2011.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Jason Puracal, the Seattle area man who is serving 22 years in a Nicaraguan prison for drug-trafficking charges, has taken another step in attempting to gain his freedom. Puracal filed a human rights lawsuit in the United Nations on Jan. 18 in New York.

According to Puracal's representatives, the case of Jason Zachary Puracal v. Government of Nicaragua was filed on his behalf by his sister Janis Puracal, who is a lawyer, and noted human-rights lawyer Jared Genser of Perseus Strategies. The case was filed with the UN's Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. The case urges the Working Group to find that Puracal's detention is arbitrary and in violation of both Nicaraguan and international laws.

A release from Puracal's supporters states that the "Working Group is an independent and impartial tribune in the United Nations, which consists of experts from Chile, Norway, Pakistan, Senegal and Ukraine. It is charged with adjudicating cases of those alleged to be arbitrarily detained and issuing written opinions about whether the detentions are consistent with the country's international legal obligations."

Janis Puracal said she feels optimistic about this turn in her brother's case.

"We were very well received in the United Nations. When people hear about the case against Jason they are outraged about the human rights violations. Due to the delays in Jason's appeal process, we were left with no choice but to bring attention to an international tribunal," she said.

This is the first petition filed against Nicaragua in the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, according to Puracal's supporters.

"I believe Jason is completely innocent of the charges on which he was convicted," said Genser. "Moreover, the violations of Nicaraguan and international law in this case are extraordinary. Not only was Jason convicted before a person who wasn't a lawyer let alone qualified to serve as a judge, but the prosecution didn't even bother presenting any credible evidence to convict him of the offenses with which he was charged."

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-District 9), one of the few American officials to express concern over Puracal’s situation, has expressed his dissatisfaction with the situation. Smith's district includes the Federal Way area.

“They presented no evidence of a crime here," Smith said in a previous report. "They have simply kidnapped and held him for a period of time — not in compliance with international law nor Nicaraguan law.”

To learn more about Puracal's case, visit


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