Oregon family tries to free daughter jailed in Japan for bringing in medicine with amphetamine

An Oregon family is trying to win the release of a young woman jailed in Japan because she shipped in a medication containing amphetamine.

Family members in Hillsboro, Oregon, told The Oregonian newspaper (http://bit.ly/1M1Beot) that Carrie Russell, 26, suffers from attention deficit disorder, which is treated with Adderall, and was in Tokyo getting ready to take a job teaching English when she was detained Feb. 20.

Her mother, a doctor, shipped Russell a refill for three months in South Korea, and Russell in turn shipped the medicine to Japan after she got the job.

Japan has strict drug laws and cracks down on amphetamines.

"Nobody can bring any medicine containing methamphetamine or amphetamine (Adderall and so on) into Japan," says a document on the Consulate General of Japan in Seattle. "If you are found with any medicine containing methamphetamine or amphetamine illegally in Japan, you can be arrested as a criminal on the spot, immediately, without a warrant in principle."

A U.S. consular official and a lawyer hired by the family have visited Russell at a women's detention center in Nagoya. They have told the family that Russell has been held in solitary confinement and subjected to numerous interrogations.

Russell's stepfather, Portland lawyer Loren Podwill, wrote letter of apology last week to the prosecutor in Nagoya.

Podwill said the young woman, adopted at infancy from a Guatemalan birth mother, was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder at 7 and has dedicated herself to teaching. He cited her work during college summers in Japan and Germany teaching children of military personnel and the last two years teaching English in South Korea.

No one had intended to ignore or break the law, he said.

"That's not who we are," Podwill wrote. "That's not who Carrie is. She made a mistake. Jill made a mistake. ... Carrie has been humiliated and punished enough for that mistake, which she will never make again."

Members of the Oregon congressional delegation were reported to have intervened without success.


Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com