Jermaine Rogers

Jermaine Rogers stands in a prison cell in Kuwait, where he is sentenced to life in prison.

Courtesy photo

For 2½ years, Jermaine Rogers has been in a Kuwait prison. Now, his family has found it more difficult to communicate with him, and a representative from the U.S. Department of State has not visited him since September.

Rogers, a Connecticut native who was stationed at Fort Hood during his time in the U.S. Army, was sentenced to death by hanging on drug charges Sept. 25, 2016.

In February 2017, that sentence was reduced to life in prison. Both Rogers and his family maintain he is innocent, and a medley of things — from a faulty search warrant to evidence they suspect was planted in his file — have prevented him from a fair shot at freedom.

“They (The Department of State) don’t check on him. They won’t even (deliver) the letters that his mom writes to him,” said Killeen resident Karina Mateo, Rogers fiancee, in an email. “We haven’t been able to get him a new court day.”

On Oct. 6, 2015, Rogers was in his apartment in Mahboula, a town that sits on the Persian Gulf, when police officers carried out a search warrant at his home.

That resulted in his arrest, on a charge of cocaine possession. He was in prison for nearly a year before his death sentence was announced.

Rogers’ family members said they feel desperate as they wait for news stateside. They have sent 104 letters to U.S. Senators, and so far, only Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, has responded.

He reached out to John Kerry while Kerry was the secretary of state and asked Kerry’s office to investigate and “demand fair and equitable treatment for Mr. Rogers,” according to a copy of his letter.

Blumenthal has reached out again, Mateo said, but so far, that’s the only help they’ve received.

The office of Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, also confirmed they’ve been in contact with Mateo, though an aide declined to specify what they’ve done to help.

“The embassy cut all the communication, so now we are paying a ridiculous amount in order for him to be able to use the phone from time to time,” Mateo said.

Previously, communication was provided through a lawyer appointed by the Department of State.

Pooja Jhunjhunwala, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of State, said the department has not yet given up on Rogers.

“The Department of State takes seriously its responsibilities to assist U.S. citizens abroad and stands ready to provide all appropriate consular services to U.S. citizens in need,” he said in an email. “Consular officers from the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait have visited Mr. Rogers regularly since his arrest, including most recently on September 20, 2017, and continue to provide all possible consular assistance.”

Rogers is not the only U.S. citizen to run into this problem.

On May 8, 2015, former U.S. Army soldier and contractor Monique Coverson and her partner Larissa Joseph were arrested by Kuwait police and charged with the possession of marijuana.

The couple insists the substance seized was not marijuana, but rather K2, a synthetic marijuana.

Coverson’s mother Michelle Jackson has spoken to other media outlets, and thinks the reason the duo is being held in jail is because they are gay, something that is not looked upon favorably by Kuwaitis.

Homosexuality between two males is illegal in Kuwait, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Cross-dressing is also a crime, according to the U.S. Department of State website, with a penalty of up to three years’ imprisonment for imitating the appearance of the opposite sex in public.

In 2017, The Associated Press reported six people working at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, were fired for using or possessing illegal drugs.

Opium production is a major source of income for insurgents and the Taliban in Afghanistan, the story said.

The Department of State has warnings on its website for those traveling to Kuwait.

“You risk immediate imprisonment for possession of alcohol or driving under the influence. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs, synthetics, and drug-making ingredients are severe,” the website said. ”Convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. If arrested for criminal violations, you may be detained for weeks without formal charges being filed.”

254-501-7552 | sullivan@kdhnews.com

(2) comments

THUGNIFICENT KILLED ME

You end of sleeping in the bed you've made.

“Stupidity cannot be cured. Stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death. There is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity.”

― Robert A. Heinlein

VetA42

When in Rome do as the Romans do! Unfortunately a number of American Citizen's do not believe Our Constitutional Protections do not (I say again Do Not) apply to You when You depart the United States Boarders.
Yes the Government (Military) Members are covered by Status of Forces Agreements in many of the Country's that they may be assigned too.
But not all Friendly nor enemy governments have any such agreement with America.
As a Military Service member and Government Contractor I have been in many Foreign Country's and have found that: You follow the laws and obey the security forces, Police and other like agencies and You are either welcomed or tolerated but You are still a foreigner and You do not have any America's Constitutional Privileges that are guaranteed in America.
Something that the individual does or fails to do causes the attention of those that are responsible for their Country or Local Laws.
American Citizen be aware You and You alone are responsible for what You do or fail to do and whom You chose to be associated with.
Your choice put yourself in harms way You will find different rules and consequences.
You are briefed about this when You are assigned or accept a contract with a firm to be there.

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