A prominent tech entrepreneur and American citizen is stuck in a Colombian prison pending extradition proceedings. He is reportedly living in a jail that mainly houses drug traffickers and narco-terrorists, in squalid conditions.
Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, 44, is a former Goldman Sachs analyst and star of a 2001 documentary, "Startup.com," Forbes reports. He was arrested in September after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) indicted him for accounting fraud and market manipulation.
The SEC complaint claims that during his time as the CEO of KIT Digital from 2008 to 2001, Tuzman attempted to defraud investors and auditors, GazetteNet.com reports. Robyn Smith, KIT Digital's former chief financial officer, allegedly assisted in the fraud.
Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for Manhattan, filed an indictment against Tuzman and reportedly arranged for Colombian authorities to detain him until he could be extradited, according to Forbes. Tuzman has since been held for the last two months in the isolated, ninth-floor bunker of La Picota, a maximum security prison housing drug traffickers, cartel members and narco-terrorists.
Tuzman's lawyers have filed a letter in Manhattan's federal court calling for his release from jail to be expedited. The letter cites the terrible conditions that Tuzman has been subjected to during his time in jail.
According to the letter, obtained by Forbes, "mental health, physical condition, and life are in jeopardy." The letter also notes that before Tuzman was even transferred to La Picota, he was held in a jail where he was exposed to the elements for 16 hours a day.
After being transferred to La Picota, he has had no access to the outdoors or natural light, and he has reportedly lost 20 pounds. His food is often spoiled, and he often needs to use water from the latrines to wash dishes. The prison is located at a 7,500-foot altitude and has no heating.
Tuzman's lawyers want the original arrest warrant that led to Tuzman's detention in Colombia dismissed.
“The ends do not justify the means,” their letter read. “The U.S. government has lost sight of justice.”