Saturday, July 25, 2009

Geoscience students returning from Brazil; charges still pending

University of Arizona geoscience professor Andy Cohen sent out a note this afternoon, reporting that the UA geology graduate students arrested in Brazil while doing field work with Brazilian university researchers, were allowed to return to the U.S. last night, but may have to go back to resolve the criminal charges filed against them. They were arrested almost exactly one month ago [right, one of the freed UA grad students, Matthew McBGlue -right, with assistant - drilling in Argentina on similar research to that done in Brazil. Credit, Andy Cohen]. Andy's email in full is below:

Dear Colleagues,
I am writing to update you on the situation about the US and Brazilian students arrested while doing field work in the Pantanal region of Brazil. Early this past week a ruling was made in the Brazilian Federal court allowing the American students to get their passports back and last night they all left Brazil to return home. The issue is not completely resolved since by Brazilian law they may yet have to return to Brazil to answer questions, although a legal request was also made to the court to allow them to answer questions from their homes in the US. Formal charges have not yet been filed by the police to the court, and we remain hopeful that eventually the original charges will be dropped, but will have to wait for this for the time being.

In the meantime I am extremely grateful for the outpouring of support from all of you in your signing the petition for the students and your many letters of concern. The response to the petition was overwhelming-I had received over 400 signatures by the time I had to submit the petition to the court and the petition received attention in the largest circulation daily newspaper in Brazil. That document was attached to various other support letters and affidavits to the court and I am certain it will prove helpful in convincing the court of the nature of the student's activities and their acting in good faith regarding necessary permits and visas at the time of their arrest.

Andrew S. Cohen
Department of Geosciences
University of Arizona

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