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After Human Rights Outcry, Seattle-Area Woman Freed From Prison In Mexico

Marco Ugarte
AP Photo
Nestora Salgado waves from a bus as she leaves Tepepan prison in Mexico City, March 18, 2016.

Nestora Salgado, of Renton, Washington, who was held in a prison in Mexico for two and a half years, was released this morning from Tepepan prison in Mexico City. Human rights activists in Mexico and the United States had been pressuring the Mexican government to free her.Nestora  Salgado, a citizen of both the United States and Mexico, split her time between the two countries. In Mexico, she led a vigilante-style community police force, which mounted patrols to protect residents from corruption and organized crime. The community police forces are legal under Mexican law.

In Seattle, the International Human Rights Clinic at Seattle University Law School and the grassroots group Free Nestora have held rallies in front of the Mexican consulate to draw attention to Salgado's plight. They received early support from Washington Congressman Adam Smith and, more recently, from the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which ruled Salgado's detention in Mexico "illegal and arbitrary."

Reacting to Salgado's release after all this time Su Docekal, with the Free Nestora campaign, said there have been rumblings for about a week that Salgado would be set free.

“But you just never know with the Mexican government, so it was a huge amount of relief, and frankly, we’re just thrilled,” said Docekal.

Salgado will return to the Seattle area, where she has a husband and children.

Advocates for Salgado insist the activist did nothing wrong by heading up a legally sanctioned vigilante-type police force to counter corrupt local authorities in Olinala in the Mexican state of Guerrero.

She was arrested in August 2013 after people who had been detained by the force filed a complaint of kidnapping. A federal judge had cleared her of those charges, but a related state case kept her imprisoned until those charges were also dropped.

Salgado left prison wearing a community police force t-shirt. Docekal says it sent a message that she was still "willing to fight" for what is right.

Paula reports on groundbreaking legal decisions in Washington State and on trends in crime and law enforcement. She’s been at KNKX since 1989 and has covered the Law and Justice beat for the past 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.
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