Family of Man Imprisoned in Yugoslavia Awaits His Return
STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. (AP) _ The brother of a man imprisoned briefly in Yugoslavia said Monday that final arrangements were under way for his return to the United States.
Franco Ivezaj said he telephoned his brother, Peter, in Titograd, Yugoslavia, and ″he sounds well.″
Peter has his passport back and is working on arrangements to return to the United States, said Franco Ivezaj.
He said there was a flight from Yugoslavia to the United States on Thursday, but that his brother was trying to book passage through Italy, which could bring him home sooner.
Peter Ivezaj, 30, was arrested in August while visiting relatives in Yugoslavia.
Ivezaj, an ethnic Albanian with dual U.S.-Yugoslav citizenship, was convicted in Titograd of belonging to an Albanian-American student group and of demonstrating in front of the Yugoslav Embassy in Washington and in two other U.S. cities.
The court said the demonstrations were directed against the Yugoslav constitutional system and were aimed at toppling the communist regime.
On Wednesday, he was sentenced to seven years in prison. But two days later, the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade confirmed that Peter Ivezaj had been released from prison.
″This clearly shows that U.S. citizenship does indeed have real value, and the United States government ... does stand behind its citizens to protect them wherever they may be,″ Frano Ivezaj said.
Following Peter Ivezaj’s release from prison, he was reunited with his wife, Judy, in Titograd, about 200 miles southwest of Belgrade.
In the United States, members of Congress and the State Department strongly protested the sentencing.