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Palo Alto mother says son has been in a Nepal jail six weeks on false charges

The mother of a Palo Alto man locked in a Nepal jail for more than six weeks over what she contends are false charges said she’s hoping he’ll be released as soon as Monday.
Wolf Price, 31, who has spent the past 12 years in Nepal as a filmmaker and activist, was jailed in Kathmandu, the nation’s capital, on April 5. He was arrested after recording a fight between a 15-year-old boy and his sister, who are among the scores of children Price had been bringing out of a jungle to take part in projects and attend school. After the fight, the boy told Nepalese officials Price struck him in the head, his mother Mary Bartnikowski said in an interview Friday.
“All it took was one fake accusation by a 15-year old boy from Chitwan Jungle combined with recently posing for a photo with a controversial Nepali public figure,” Price said in a statement Bartnikowski provided on a GoFundMe page she launched to help pay for legal fees. “I’m desperate to get out but I have no idea when that will happen.”
According to Bartnikowski, the video shows the boy pounding his head on the ground before officials arrived and the girl later issued a statement saying Price did not hit her brother.
“That should have been enough to get him out of jail,” Bartnikowski said. “I think he’s being framed. … There isn’t any evidence for any of the stories that are swirling around.”
The U.S. government is aware of Price’s arrest, State Department spokeswoman Pooja Jhunjhunwala said in email Friday. “Since Mr. Price’s arrest, consular officers have visited him. We will continue to provide appropriate consular services to Mr. Price.”
A spokesperson for Sen. Dianne Feinstein said in an email her office can’t discuss the case because of privacy concerns.
Wolf Price is shown taking photos during an annual picnic for elderly women in Nepal. (Courtesy of Mary Bartnikowski) 
Bartnikowski said her friend from previous visits to Nepal has been visiting Price daily, bringing him food, reporting on his condition and occasionally getting authorities’ permission to have her son speak with her by phone. Prisoners are underfed and live in dirty conditions, Bartnikowski said, adding her son was hospitalized for a time with respiratory ailments and a high fever. It was only because he managed to send her a text before his phone and other possessions were confiscated that she found out he was jailed, she said.
“I got to talk to him yesterday; he was on his way to do a statement,” Bartnikowski said Friday. “Every single day (my friend) goes to see him. That’s how I know his condition and that’s how I know what’s going on with him. … I know he’s not being tortured.”
Price’s case is set to go to trial Sunday, Bartnikowski  said, and the attorney in Nepal she hired said her son could be released the next day if all goes well. Bartnikowski’s friend and a girl Price rescued from a domestic abuse situation will testify, she said. And affiliates of Beyond the Four Walls Endowment Fund, which her son founded in 2012 to support Nepalese girls and women through education and other enterprises, have submitted character statements.
“It’s been an up-and-down thing because I thought he would be out a month ago (but) I’m optimistic … (and) he is optimistic,” Bartnikowski said. “He said, ‘I spend my time thinking about the future, not the past, and I’m thinking of ways to save the world …’ ”
Wolf has sponsored scholarships for girls’ education in Nepal, built a women’s shelter, received grants and equipment from American Apparel, Motorola and other donors, and assisted after the 2015 earthquake by building homes, farming land and starting businesses, according to the GoFundMe site.
“I see that he has a very bright future,” Bartnikowski said. “He can be doing this kind of work in the United States and other places that are more appreciative of the help he is bringing. … He did an amazing job in Nepal for 12 years.”

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