Alleged Haitian Orphans Case: Attempted Child Trafficking or a Big Misunderstanding?

Published February 02, 2010

| FoxNews.com

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 1, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Ten Americans from a Baptist church under arrest in Haiti. Why? Well, for trying to take dozens of children out of disaster zone to the Dominican Republic.

The American say they were just trying to rescue the children. The Haitian government says that is not so, that the group knowingly and illegally were taking the children out of the country.

Joining us by phone is Jorge Puello, the attorney for the detained Americans. Jorge, where are your clients tonight?

JORGE PUELLO, ATTORNEY FOR DETAINED AMERICANS (Via telephone): They are being detained right now at a police station a couple of blocks away from the U.N. headquarters.

VAN SUSTEREN: What happened? What did your clients say?

PUELLO: Well, I only got access to speak to one of them. The other nine, the police are denying access to lawyers. I don't understand why they are doing that.

And so far, what information we have gathered is -- you have to understand that Haiti right now is in a state of emergency. And there is no functioning government and no functioning government offices over there.

So they were trying to get these kids out to a safer place. If you go to city there's no food, no drinking water. There's a lot of problems going on, and they were trying to help these kids.

VAN SUSTEREN: I understand there were 33 children two months to 12- years-old, is that correct?

PUELLO: Yes, ma'am.

VAN SUSTEREN: Where are those children tonight?

PUELLO: I don't have no information. The Haitian government has been very unwilling to talk to us. They don't give us information. Our clients are not even charged and so they don't want to give us any documents telling us what the charges are.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why haven't you been able to see your clients?

PUELLO: We get to the police station and we ask to see them and they say we need permission from the director general. When we asked them where is the office of the director general, they keep telling us they don't even know, that the building collapsed and there's no one there and they are just giving us the run-around.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are you in Haiti tonight or the Dominican Republic?

PUELLO: I'm right at the border waiting for the gate to open tomorrow morning. Unfortunately, I got here too late to the border to cross over.

VAN SUSTEREN: So at this point you can't cross over into Haiti?

PUELLO: No, because they close at the gate at 7:00 at night.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you know what your clients intended to do with those children? Was it just to bring them to the Dominican Republic or to the United States?

PUELLO: There was no intention to bring them to the United States. They were only trying to take them to a temporary facility so they can be taken care of. A lot of these kids don't even know that their parents have died. They need psychological help.

And it doesn't make any sense when at the border they are not asking for any papers. But Haitians cross over to the Dominican Republic and the Dominican government is not asking for passports or any ID to cross over.

VAN SUSTEREN: Where did they find these 33 children? How did they get these children?

PUELLO: There was an orphanage that collapsed in Haiti. It was called friends of the orphans of Haiti. And there was somebody over there that told them that the orphans had no place, no room to place them.

And these people that came to Haiti to help these kids were trying to do a job that nobody is doing right now. There's too many kids in the streets. There's a lot of people starving to death in Haiti. And they were just trying to help them. There was no intention to do anything illegal.

VAN SUSTEREN: Jorge, thank you, and keep us informed. Thank you.

PUELLO: No problem, have a nice day. Great show you have, thank you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, sir.

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