The life of Peruvian computer scientist Eddy Manuel Núñez Santos changed drastically on September 26.
That day, Peruvian police officers showed up at his home in Lima and took him into custody before the surprised gaze of his partner and his 9-year-old son.
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Arresting agents told him he was charged with extorting minors in the United States and viewing child pornography.
“My partner and I looked at each other and said, 'This must be a big mistake', but the police told me not to make things difficult and I left with them,” he told BBC Mundo.
His dream had just begun.
He didn't know it at the time, but the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) accused him of making dozens of bomb threats against American schools, synagogues, and various public buildings, as well as terrorizing minors in the country. Sexual content was sent to him.
They arrested him as US authorities activated an Interpol Red Notice and requested the Peruvian police to arrest him and then extradite him to the US.
He spent more than a month in a Peruvian prison, awaiting extradition to the United States and his country's police spread his name and face through local media, which did not hesitate to call him a “pedophile” or a “criminal.” .
Eddy has always maintained his innocence and that everything was a mistake, and he was released on November 9, after the US Embassy officially announced that the charges against him had been dropped.
Despite this, a search for his name on the internet keeps coming up with information about his arrest.
He still hasn't recovered from the shock. “I'm trying to get my life back on track, but it's hard for me after everything that's happened,” she says.
After being detained, Eddy was transferred to a police station in the Lima district of Surco, where Interpol's national central office in Peru is located.
He learned that the FBI called him “Lucas” and that he was the suspect they were looking for for sending emails containing bomb threats to educational and religious centers, as well as airports and shopping centers in New York, Pennsylvania and states. Connecticut, Arizona and Alaska.
The emails have in some cases led to the evacuation of threatened buildings and forced US security forces.
According to authorities, the threats were in retaliation for “Lucas” contacting a 15-year-old minor online and refusing to send her nude photos.
FBI investigators tracked emails and IP addresses and were convinced that Eddie and “Lucas” were the same person.
Eddie ran a web development business that provided email services to clients ranging from real estate agents to online merchants.
According to him, federal agents mistakenly believed that emails delivered from the service were sent by him, suggesting that one of his clients' accounts might have been hacked.
“I was convinced that everything would be fine soon, so I asked my partner to hand over my computer and cell phone to the police,” he says. “They can verify that there is nothing related to bombs or minors.”
But shortly after arriving at the police station, he was told he would be extradited to the US to face legal action there. “When the Peruvian police told me they were going to deport me, I couldn't believe it,” Eddie says.
He was most alarmed when an officer informed him that the press would be coming to the facility where he was being held to cover his case. “I knew it was going to hurt me, so I asked the head of the Interpol office, Colonel Aldo Avila, not to expose me to the media.”
According to his story, though Colonel Avila told him he would not be put on display, things turned out differently.
“They put a vest on me that was said to be banned and made me exit through a passage. TV cameras were waiting for me outside. I felt so bad. The media captured my pictures and then Colonel Aldo Avila issued statements to the media in which he distorted reality and assumed I was guilty.
In a conversation with BBC Mundo, Alto Ávila denied that he had introduced the prisoner to the media, saying that even though radio, television and local press networks had access to his face and identity, they broadcast them undisguised with the reports on the case they provided. By Avila.
“We limit the information that Interpol sends us,” Avila said.
After his unwanted appearance in front of the media, Eddie spends the night in a cell. He later appeared before a judge, who ordered him jailed pending resolution of a US extradition request.
On October 2, he was admitted to the Castro Castro prison in San Juan de Luricancho, a suburb of Lima, where he spent the worst days of his life.
In jail, awaiting extradition to the United States
“The conditions in the prison are deplorable and do not meet minimum standards,” says Eddy.
The first thing that surprised him was that the security of the prison seemed to be in the hands of the inmates.
“Officers came only once a day to take the roll; “The rest of the time it was a group of inmates maintaining order in the block.”
They were the ones who made the rules clear to him early on.
“The prison was overcrowded and there was no room for me in the cell. They told me that I had to pay 600 soles (about US$161) to stay in the block and had the right to sleep in a group with other inmates on the hallway floor.
Those were very difficult weeks.
“The first three weeks I was absolutely tortured. My head exploded as to how they could have included me in it. It depressed me every time I thought about my children, so I tried not to think about my family. But at night I cried thinking of them.
The prison library and soccer games with other inmates helped him stay afloat, away from the drugs other inmates often used, while he awaited extradition to the United States, which he began to see as the best option. At least he can defend himself.
Until one day the officers taking the roll called him to go and get the notification.
An officer asked him to sign a document. It took him a while to understand what was being said there.
The court ordered his release as the US embassy through a consular note withdrew all charges against him. While he was in prison, threatening emails from “Lucas” continued.
Released on November 9. He spent 38 days in jail.
Upon his release, one of the first things he did was search the Internet for Peruvian media coverage of his case.
He then saw a press release from the US Department of Justice announcing his arrest.
The Department of Justice responded to the BBC's request for information, and the story has now been removed from its website, but declined to comment further. The FBI also had no comment on the case.
Eddy was surprised by the coverage of his image and name in the Peruvian media and the reports of Colonel Avila.
“The first day I was happy to be reunited with my family, but the next day, when I saw everything that was said about me, I became very depressed again.”
Eddie is slowly trying to get his life back together, but it's not easy for him. Many of his clients shunned him after appearing in the press portraying him as a pedophile, and despite counseling from his psychologist, he admits he still can't get over what happened.
“I feel angry because today, after everything I've been through, no one has given me any explanation.”
“I was hoping for a communication from the US authorities, and their silence about my case hurts me.” He was in jail for weeks without anyone questioning him.
But he also did not have a good impression of the authorities in his country.
“It became clear to me that the Peruvian police are very unprofessional, and I believe that some of their commanders use the media to promote themselves.”
Now, he is seeking legal advice from a lawyer to take legal action because he believes his rights have been violated.
He hopes that the media that reported his arrest will also report that he has been released.
For him, justice begins now.