Okke Ornstein will be released this week on a presidential pardon. As members of his family, we’re feeling overwhelmed by the good news, as you can imagine—especially since people had started calling, emailing and posting about the news before we were even able to say anything about it ourselves. We’d like to openly share the email we sent to supporters this morning. You can read the entire email here. Please feel free to pass the link to this web page on—we want people to know the good news, and to see that our campaign is transparent.
[Editing note made on December 26, 2016: We mistakenly said that President Varela’s pardon absolved Ornstein of the 20-month conviction in the “crimes against the honor” case filed by Monte Friesner. In reality, the pardon was made through a reduction of Ornstein’s prison sentence. We thank Eric Jackson at The Panama News for being the first to alert us on this, while Ornstein was still in prison. With the injustices left intact by a reduced prison sentence, Ornstein will begin a legal case against Panama in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.]
We’re thrilled to be writing you with great news: Okke will be released this week!
He is #159 on the list of people who are serving sentences and who have just been pardoned by President Varela. Panama’s Ministry of Government announced the presidential pardons on its website this morning.
The presidential pardon absolves Okke of the “crimes against the honors” conviction that led to his arrest and a 20-month prison sentence. While Monte Friesner’s lawsuit against Okke should never have gotten this far to begin with, we’re of course relieved that the pardon will free Okke. Once he’s out, Okke will pursue a principled resolution by taking his case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
Thank you for being a huge part of #FreeOkkeOrnstein. Your initiatives and support helped apply pressure in the right places at the right times. Friends, we did it!
We are truly grateful for all the diplomatic and advocacy initiatives taken on Okke’s behalf. The transparency, free press and human rights organizations played a major role in making Okke’s situation an urgent matter for the Panamanian government. Under the sophisticated leadership of Ambassador Dirk Janssen, the Dutch Embassy in Panama worked tirelessly to formulate solutions. We would have been lost without the expertise and guidance of Ambassador Janssen’s team.
As noted on the Donate page of our campaign website, Kimberlyn is managing the financial aspects of Okke’s legal affairs. She initially planned to provide all donors with a final accounting after the dust settled a bit, yet she is opening that up to everyone on this list now. You can find every receipt and funding source to-date listed in this Google Drive folder. The accounting should be self-explanatory, as the folders are clearly labeled and organized, but Kimberlyn would gladly answer any questions about it (the $0 amounts on the Expense Sheet are donations in-kind—we wanted to show these forms of generosity too!).
We share the accounting now for a couple of important reasons. One is that some troubled people are publishing libelous claims that we are running a scam (we will be addressing their claims through the appropriate civil channels). The other is that we are facing a burdensome debt for Okke’s legal fees, and we would appreciate any additional monetary support that anyone can offer.
We’re waiting for news about whether a case involving a deceased person (Clyde Jenkins) will be heard this week. Stay tuned… For now, you can look forward to hearing from Okke when he gets out of Renacer.
In deep gratitude,
Kimberlyn David and Esther Ornstein
(Okke’s partner and oldest daughter, respectively)