(Photo: AP Images / Javier Galeano)
Eight of the ten American volunteers detained in Haiti for the past three weeks on suspicion of child abduction were finally released and arrived in Miami early Thursday morning.
The Baptist volunteers, mostly from two Idaho churches, arrived at Miami International Airport on a U.S. Air Force C-130 cargo plane shortly after midnight. After they cleared U.S. Customs, at about 1:25 a.m., seven of the group members went into an elevator at Miami International Airport Hotel, according to The Miami Herald.
None of the volunteers spoke to reporters at the airport about their ordeal in Haiti.
However, Jim Allen, the Texas welder who joined the group 48 hours beforehand, released a statement saying “faith means everything to me and I knew this moment would come when the truth would set me free.”
The eight Americans are part of the ten-member U.S. team that was arrested Jan. 29 by Haitian authorities while trying to transport 33 Haitian children to the Dominican Republic by bus. They say they wanted to take the children to an orphanage and care for them after a 7.0-magnitude quake devastated Port-au-Prince.
Haitian authorities, however, say the group did not receive government permission to take the children out of the country.
The volunteers were subsequently charged with child kidnapping and criminal association.
On Wednesday, the judge overseeing the case released eight of the ten Americans on bail. But the volunteers were not required to post bond to leave. They only had to promise to return to Haiti if needed during the ongoing investigation.
Two Americans, however, still remain in Haiti for further questioning. The judge ruled that team leader Laura Silsby and Charisa Coulter should remain in Haiti so that authorities can question them on why they visited Haiti on a trip before the earthquake.
Attorney Gary Lissade, who represents Allen, said the fact that the Haitian judge allowed eight of the Americans to leave the country without posting bond is a good sign. He expects the charges will be eventually dropped.