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‘I was wrongfully accused and convicted’: Neil Bantleman back in Canada

Last Updated Jul 11, 2019 at 6:22 pm MDT

CALGARY – A former Calgary teacher imprisoned in Jakarta, Indonesia for child abuse offenses has arrived back in Canada.

The family of Neil Bantleman confirmed that he has been home since mid-June after originally being tried and jailed in 2014. Bantleman and his family have maintained the teacher’s innocence through the trial and sentence.

Bantleman’s brother, Guy, says part of the conditions of the release was that it was kept as quiet as possible. Now that he’s home, his family is asking that media respect his privacy while he settles into his new life of freedom.

RELATED: Family of Canadian teacher imprisoned in Indonesia meets with Trudeau

In the meantime, Neil has released a statement:

“Five years ago I was wrongfully accused and convicted of crimes I did not commit and furthermore never occurred. I applied for clemency which I am pleased was granted by Indonesia last month upholding essential justice and human rights. Tracy and I are very happy to be home and reunited with our family.

I would like to express our deep appreciation to the Government of Canada for their steadfast commitment to seeing us home.

Thank you to our family and friends around the world and to all our colleagues in the international school community who have held us up and kept us strong and true to our values throughout this entire ordeal.

I want to specifically thank my brother Guy for the tremendous amount of time, effort and love that he poured into campaigning for my return.

Most of all I want to thank my wife Tracy. I have no doubt that without her love and commitment this day would not have been possible. Her tireless efforts with the coordination and communication between our legal team, school, Embassy and family in Canada was the key to securing my freedom.

We are asking for privacy at this time so we can reconnect with family and move forward with our lives. Thank you for your understanding and support.”

RELATED: Canadian teacher imprisoned in Indonesia marks two years of ordeal

Bantleman and an Indonesian teaching assistant were arrested in July 2014 while working at a prestigious international school in Jakarta.

Both men were accused of abusing three students and went through years of legal wrangling in Indonesian courts.

The men were initially convicted, saw those convictions overturned, then ultimately went back to prison when Indonesia’s highest court reinstated the original decision and sentenced them to 11 years behind bars.

Bantleman’s family consistently maintained both the teacher and his co-accused were innocent and had become victims of a corrupt legal system in Indonesia.

The federal government had been lobbying for Bantleman’s release for years, but Global Affairs Canada declined to comment on his return Thursday.