Jason Puracal is not the next Amanda Knox. He unfortunately doesn't have that kind of sex appeal. But his story is every bit as important, and it's getting more and more attention from some very powerful people.
This week Washington Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell joined Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley in demanding the U.S. State Department apply pressure to get Puracal released from a Nicaraguan prison.
Puracal, as we've reported before, is a UW grad and Peace Corp veteran who moved to Nicaragua in 2002 to become a real estate agent. On November 11, 2010 his home was raided and he was arrested, charged and eventually convicted on a host of drug-dealing and money-laundering charges and sentenced to 22 years in prison.
He and his family have long maintained his innocence and a look at the case reveals a stunning lack of evidence against him and an equally stunning amount of questionable tactics used in convicting him.
Puracal, his wife and their child in happier times.
For example, no drugs were ever discovered by the Nicarguan authorities at Puracal's home or office and his case was tried by a 27-year-old judge who's not a licensed attorney (as Nicaraguan law apparently requires).
As Puracal put it before his trial: "They're accusing me of international drug trafficking without any drugs. They're accusing me of money laundering without any money. They're accusing me of organized crime, with the other 10 people that are charged in this case, when I don't know any of the other 10."
Until this week, however, the call to have Puracal released was being voiced mainly by Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) and a former FBI agent who have labored long and hard to get the Hilary Clinton and the State Department to take notice.
Adding the other four Senators and Congressmen to the chorus is undoubtedly good news for Puracal's family and supporters.