A U.S. missionary who was held in a Haitian prison for more than five months without charges is now free and bound for the United States.
“I was trying to keep thin[g]s quiet until he was safely out of Haiti. However, some things are impossible to keep quiet. Especially really great and wonderful news,” reported Leann Pye, wife of 29-year-old pastor Danny Pye, who was being held in a prison in the southern Haitian coastal town of Jacmel.
“Our prayers, tears, and words have been heard and responded with a YES,” she exclaimed Wednesday in her blog. “Danny is free and is out of Jacmel spending some time with the kids. We will be unavailable until next week. Thank you all for your support and prayers. God is good!”
Pye, who has been serving in Haiti since 2003, was sent to prison last October after appearing before a local magistrate. The purpose of the court appearance was to negotiate the legal dividing of property and other assets belonging to Joy in Hope, the ministry he and his wife established to serve needy children. Pye and his wife Leann left the ministry to create an orphanage they named Kenbe Fem, Creole for “Hold Strong.”
Though both parties expected to reach a deal, Pye was taken into custody by order of the judge and told he was being held pending an investigation. Under Haitian law, a person can be imprisoned for up to 90 days without charge while awaiting investigation.
"We were shocked that he was arrested that day because we were told it was resolved," Joy in Hope director Brian Williams told The Associated Press earlier this month.
Notably, according to the most recent human rights report by the U.S. State Department, nearly 7,000 of the country’s 9,000 or so prisoners have not been convicted. Furthermore, many awaiting trial are detained for periods exceeding the length of any sentence they might have received.
Last week, as Pye’s plight became more widely publicized, Leann contacted the Washington-based American Center for Law and Justice, a legal firm dedicated to protecting religious freedom and freedom of speech.
Since then, ACLJ attorneys have been working to secure Pye’s release. In Washington, the ACLJ met with the Ambassador of Haiti to the U.S. and discussed the matter with officials of the U.S. State Department. The ACLJ also began working with government officials in Haiti as well as Pye’s attorney there.
“The fact that he was detained and held for months in jail with no charges of any kind is very troubling and points to the fact that the judicial system in Haiti is badly in need of reform,” remarked ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow Wednesday night, after reporting on Pye's release.
According to Sekulow, Haitian authorities released Pye without citing a reason or commenting. Pye is scheduled to return home to Florida "soon."
“We're delighted that he is being reunited with his family,” Sekulow added, noting that Pye’s release comes as the missionary couple expect their second child to arrive any day now.
Last Wednesday, a 24-hour prayer and fasting initiative was held for Pye’s release. According to Pye, the same judge who jailed him in October signed his release order Tuesday.