U.S. Missionary Released from Haitian Jail

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Haiti has released an American missionary who was held in jail for more than five months without explanation or any formal charges.

Danny Pye, 29, had worked in Haiti for about eight years. Pye runs an orphanage with his wife in the southern city of Jacmel.

He was detained and jailed after a court hearing involving a property dispute with another group of missionaries last October. The dispute was settled and he was briefly released on Christmas Eve. But later Pye was re-arrested and jailed on suspicion of having an invalid residency card.

The group said it had never intended for him to be jailed.

Last week, his wife contacted the American Center for Law and Justice in Washington, D.C., who met with the Haitian ambassador and U.S. State Department officials.

The Haitian authorities agreed to release Pye, who is planning to return to his home in Bradenton, Fla., where his wife is expected to give birth to their second child within days.

Pye said the same judge who jailed him in October signed his release order Tuesday, allowing him to finally leave the cell he had shared with 28 other men.

"It's been an experience I'll never forget," Pye said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press from Jacmel.

Conditions in Haitian jails are notoriously bad, and the justice system is widely considered to be dysfunctional. The U.N. said in a recent report that nearly 70 percent of the prisoners in the country are still awaiting trial and that the space per detainee is "far below applicable international standards."

The missionary said he was undeterred by the events of recent months and plans to return to Haiti soon with his daughter to continue the family's work in Jacmel.

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