Minnesotan held in Mongolia for 2 years pardoned, will be reunited with family


A Minnesota businessman banned from leaving Mongolia and then imprisoned has been given a presidential pardon and will be reunited with his family.

Justin Kapla, originally from Elk River, was the president of mining company SouthGobi Sands in Mongolia, but was barred from leaving the country for more than two years while the company was investigated.

Last month, he was sentenced to 5 years and 10 months for tax evasion following a "deeply flawed" trial, Bloomberg reports. It sparked widespread condemnation in the international community.

But he has now been pardoned, along with two Philippine nationals who were also jailed, and released from detention, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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It will mean the Elk River Senior High graduate will be reunited with his wife and two children – who live in Mongolia – following his incarceration, as well as finally being able to see family back home in Minnesota.

Minnesota senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar have been fighting against Kapla's exit ban, and Franken expressed his delight at the Mongolian president's decision.

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"I can only imagine what a difficult time this has been for Justin and his family, but I am so happy to hear the news that he's coming home," he said in a statement released jointly with Sen. Klobuchar.

"My office has been working on this case for more than two years ... all in the hopes of helping Justin to be able to leave Mongolia and see his family in Minnesota. I'm glad to see that day has come."

Sen. Klobuchar added: "Justin Kapla will soon be reunited with his friends and family after far too long ... I wish him and his family the best moving forward from this incident and the hardships it has caused."

Forbes reports that the three men are out of prison and "in comfortable locations while they go through several other processes prior to departing from Mongolia."

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