Florida pilot locked up in Middle East jail, family says he needs $45K to be released

CAPE CORAL, Fla. - A Cape Coral pilot is in jail in a Middle Eastern country which says will not free him unless he pays nearly $45,000.

Steven Bral is an international pilot who lived in Oman in 2012. While living there, he bought a car and owed $10,000, but had to leave the country when he lost his job. Oman law requires all foreign nationals to pay all debt before leaving the country.

When Bral was flying from Rwanda to Bahrain, he made a stop in Oman to change planes and was immediately arrested upon landing on March 8.

"You can't help but just think 'what's going to happen?'" his son, Nolan Bral said.

"It's a small cell and there's six men in that cell, and they have concrete floor and nothing else. That is where they sleep and eat. They eat in a circle on the floor with their hands," Cheri Bral, Steven's first wife, said.

Bral has been ordered to pay $44,600 to be released.

"He does not have that money in savings," Cheri Bral said. "It's too much."

Bral's current wife, Shamirah has been able to talk to him on the phone in the middle of the night.

"I know it's very hard on her, and it's scary," Cheri Bral said.

She said guards are trying to move Bral to an even bigger jail.

"Where you hear about torture and all this other stuff, you just don't know what's going to happen to him," Nolan Bral said.

Bral's youngest son, Trevor, is trying to stay hopeful. 

"I just wouldn't understand or know if I never see him again. I just know he'll come back," he said.

The family said the U.S. Embassy in Oman hasn't been helpful.

The State Department's press officer emailed the following statement to Scripps station WFTX in Fort Myers, Florida:

"The Department of State has no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas. We can confirm the arrest of U.S. citizen Steven Bral in Oman. Consular Officers from the U.S. Embassy in Muscat visited him on March 7, 2018.  We are providing appropriate consular services. Consular officers are not able to provide legal advice, though we can provide a list of local lawyers willing to assist U.S. citizens and contact family when requested."

- Virgil Carstens

Press Officer

Bureau of Consular Affairs

U.S. Department of State

WFTX also reached out to Governor Rick Scott, Senator Bill Nelson, and Senator Marco Rubio, but did not receive a resposne.


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