Can Burris Help Man Jailed in Morocco?

DesPlaines family seeks politicians' help in getting jailed man home

A DesPlaines family may be getting some high-powered help in its bid to get a family-member released from a Moroccan prison.

James Willson, 67, a retired airline pilot, was sentenced to eight years in prison by a Moroccan court after being convicted of illegally entering that country and drug trafficking. Willson was taken into custody after his plane went down almost a year ago.

The family met with representatives from the offices of Sen. Roland Burris and Rep. Jan Schakowsky Tuesday night to attempt to get some government intervention.

"They sat and read some of the reports and court documents to verify our story that my dad is an innocent man, and they were dumbfounded to find out that he is still there when in court documents it states he's an innocent man," Wilson's daughter, Marilyn Brief, said.

Brief said her father has not received his diabetic medicine and is suffering from starvation and dehydration.

The family claims Willson hired a local pilot for a tour in Spain, and during the flight, they had to make an emergency landing in northern Morocco.

Brief says that two police reports state that there were no drugs on the plane, and verify that there were mechanical issues with the plane that caused the emergency landing. She's confident her elected officials will be able to help get something done.

"Because so many elected officials are now weighin in on this, the Moroccan government may just decide it's just not worth it and may decide just to send him home," Schakowsky said.

"They're speechless, like us. How does a government let an innocent man get tortured like this?" Brief said.

The family has started a Web site called to aid in their quest for Willson's release.

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