A 23-year-old teaching assistant from Colorado is “scared to death” after being arrested in Spain. The TA, Brett Wright, 23, was on vacation when he was taken into custody, accused of assaulting an officer and resisting arrest. He’s been in a Madrid jail since March 15.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. His Father Says Brett Has Never Been in a Fight & Was Accused of Being Islamic
Brett’s father, Dale, told Fox 59 that his son has never been in a fight. According to Dale Wright, “Brett told me three plain clothed guys, well dressed with slick backed hair. He didn’t know who they were. They flashed something at him. He presented his passport to them. They looked at it for a minute or so. They stated that wasn’t good enough and they physically grabbed him. He flinched back and that’s when everything started I guess…He’s never been in a fight in his life, They made a couple of comments to him about being Islamic. He said ‘no – my mom is white. My dad is black.'” Dale is in the Spanish capital now trying to get his son free.
2. The Trip Was a Graduation Present From His Parents
The Indianapolis Star reports that this trip is Wright’s first time outside of the U.S. His parents bought him the trip after he graduated from Drake University with honors in 2014. During the vacation, he was supposed to meet up with his brother, Jonathan, who is a University of Louisville soccer player. Brett is a native of Longmont, Colorado, where, according to KWGN, he was a “track and football superstar” at Silver Creek High School. The station also reports that he had a 4.0 GPA. After graduating high school, he went to college at Drake University in Iowa before becoming a teaching assistant in Indiana upon graduation.
3. He Could Be Facing 10 Years in Spanish Prison
According to Dale Wright, Brett is facing charges of assaulting an officer and of resisting arrest. Speaking to Fox 59, Dale said “The assault with a police officer can carry a maximum of six years. The resisting arrest is a two year sentence.” The station also reports that it will be April before Brett has any chance of leaving jail.
4. A Grass Roots Campaign Is Underway to Help Free Brett
A Go Fund Me page called Bring Brett Wright Home has been launched. A the time of writing it has raised over $10,000, to help pay for Dale Wright to travel to Spain and for possible legal bills. Indiana Senator Dan Coats and the State Department have also been made aware of Brett’s case and are working to free him, reports the Indianapolis Star. In a brief statement, the State Department said:
We can confirm that U.S. citizen Brett Wright was arrested in Madrid on March 15. The U.S. Embassy in Madrid is providing all possible consular assistance.
The Department of State takes seriously its obligation to assist U.S. citizens abroad, and stands ready to provide all possible consular services to U.S. citizens in need.
For more information concerning his arrest, we refer you to the Spanish authorities.
5. Over 2,500 Americans Are Arrested Overseas Every Year
According to Travel Insurance Review, the number one reason for American’s getting arrested overseas is for drug related offenses. The State Department website makes it explicitly clear that they cannot “Get U.S. citizens out of jail overseas” if that person has broken a law in foreign country. But it does offer other assistance. A list published by the Los Angeles Times in 2006 listed Mexico as the number one foreign country where Americans get arrested.