Imprisoned after heading a community police force fighting alleged corruption and organized crime, Renton resident Nestora Salgado was released Friday. She is expected to fly home Monday.
Imprisoned for two-and-a-half years in Mexico after heading a community police force fighting alleged corruption and organized crime, Renton resident Nestora Salgado was released Friday morning.
“Finally!” said her husband, Jose Luis Avila. The owner of a small construction company, he was working on a Seattle house when he received photos of his wife standing outside the Mexico City prison where she had been held. Salgado, 44, was smiling, and surrounded by members of her community police force, who had traveled from the Mexican state of Guerrero to meet her.
She spoke at a news conference later Friday morning.
Avila said he expected Salgado to spend time with her supporters in Mexico and then fly to Seattle on Monday. She will probably go to a hospital the next day to be evaluated, he said.
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Her family and supporters have long been concerned about her health, which they said deteriorated in prison. She suffers from a neurological condition due to a car accident, and was not receiving proper care in prison, said Thomas Antkowiak, one of her attorneys and director of Seattle University’s International Human Rights Clinic.
“She wasn’t getting regular access to clean water and she was barely allowed to leave her cell,” Antkowiak said.
Salgado received word of her release at an 11 p.m. Thursday court hearing, when a judge announced that she had been acquitted of all charges, according to her husband.
In August 2013, she was arrested and charged with kidnapping in connection with arrests made by her vigilante-style but legal community police force. A dual citizen of the United States and Mexico, she frequently traveled to Guerrero, where one of her three grown daughters was living.
A federal judge had cleared her, but a related state case kept her imprisoned.
Last month, a United Nations panel ruled the arrest and continuing detention of Salgado illegal.
Antkowiak said he believed that was a catalyst for Salgado’s release.
In addition to getting Salgado medical treatment, her husband said he wanted to have a party for her many supporters, which include U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Bellevue. Smith held news conferences and interceded with the U.S. State Department on Salgado’s behalf.
Salgado’s lawyers and husband also said they would discuss with her the possibility of seeking reparations for her imprisonment.
“I think the Mexican government has to pay in some way for all this damage it caused to our family,” Avila said.