Two missionaries, one from Montana and one from Wyoming, have been released in Haiti, where they were arrested on charges of being affiliated with a group that kidnapped another American in August, authorities said.
Terri Lynn Land and Carrie Louise Butson were freed Monday evening, according to a statement issued by Karla Cox, executive director of the Liberian American Relief Agency, which worked with the women and co-founded their medical program in Haiti.
A third missionary, Bryan William Smith, remains in custody. Smith was arrested after he met with the two women in a wooded area to try to persuade them to return to Haiti so their passports could be sent to Liberia, where they have dual citizenship, said Tim Moore, an attorney representing all three of them.
Haiti is ruled by a Provisional Electoral Council member appointed by President Jovenel Moise, who defeated popular former President Michel Martelly in a 2016 election. One of Moise’s first acts in office was to ban more than two dozen registered political parties, replacing them with lists of proposed candidates.
Land, 41, and Butson, 39, allegedly traveled to Haiti by plane Aug. 13 with an American man to have him removed from a church associated with the children-trafficking group known as Barakat, the organization said.
They were arrested last month in the town of Morissant. A panel of judges in the town of Saint Louis d’Douiba handed down a 14-year sentence against the two missionaries, but they can appeal the ruling within 30 days.
There was no immediate comment from the Liberian government.
“We are thrilled Terri and Carrie are back in American soil,” said Brian Gerwinkle, CEO of Prodigal Son Project, Land’s organization.
Gerwinkle said Land and Butson would continue to work in the area.