MANAGUA, Nicaragua -- A Tacoma man jailed for nearly two years on drug and money-laundering charges in Nicaragua has been released.
Jason Puracal, of Tacoma, Wash., left the prison in the back seat of a car being driven by his lawyer without talking to the media.
Fabbrith Gomez, Puracal's lawyer, briefly stopped the car and told reporters that Puracal needed to rest and take a shower. He then drove away to an undisclosed location.
Gomez said Puracal was not leaving Nicaragua. Eric Volz, A representative for Puracal, said Nicaraguan authorities did not allow him to leave the country despite his release from prison.
Volz said the defense team is unable to predict when the 35-year-old will leave Nicaragua. He did not provide further details on how the Nicaraguan government prevented Puracal's departure.
Janis Puracal, the American's sister, said the family was anxiously waiting for him to be released so he could fly back to the United States.
"The fight is not over until Jason actually is walking out of the prison and comes to the United States," his sister said by telephone before his release.
A three-judge appeals panel vacated three charges against Jason Puracal in a decision announced Wednesday. He had been convicted in August 2011 and sentenced to 22 years in prison in September.
Nicaragua's chief of organized crime prosecutors, Javier Morazan, said he was studying the ruling of the appeals court to decide which steps to take.
The appeals panel ruled that the sentencing judge failed to carefully examine the evidence and explain the reasons for convicting Puracal and 10 others. Also, the court agreed the judge had violated the defendants' rights by not allowing the defense to introduce evidence.
The case has drawn the scrutiny of U.S. lawmakers and human rights advocates who considered the judicial process was marred with inconsistencies.