tv Locked Up Abroad MSNBC November 22, 2015 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
because i said american. >> everyone up! >> they got drug smugglers, they've got murderers and rapists in there. i just want a fighting chance to go home. that's all i need. >> i was born in beverly hills. i grew up in the valley in northridge. ever since i was a little kid, i always wanted to be in the limelight. i was only 20 years old when i filmed "dude, where's my car?" i felt it was just a matter of time before i was going to get my big break. >> see you then. >> between jobs, i was a
personal trainer. i loved working out. i loved being in shape. i was the kind of guy that loved to get this trouble, and i loved to push the envelope. i was dating up a storm. it was good times. i met this one girl. she was an actress. she had a great sense of humor. we got along great. i thought i was in love with her, you know. out of nowhere -- >> hey, baby. >> -- she decided to drop me for someone else. and that really hurt. people knew something was wrong. >> hey, erik! >> rai is this armenian guy. i was training him three or four times a week. he became a really good friend of mine. >> what's going on? >> hey, you know, my girl broke up with me. >> that sucks. >> it was obvious that i was pretty sad.
he told me, you know, look -- >> you should really make a trip for me. >> he was having people travel around the world importing expensive leather goods. >> i don't get it. why don't you just mail it back? >> by sending someone over, claiming it as their own clothing, we're beating 55% import tax. >> beating the import tax back into the u.s. isn't a big crime at all in my eyes. >> will i go to jail if i do this? >> nothing will happen to you. they'll probably confiscate the goods, maybe a fine. >> and i was and you pay us to do this? >> yeah, of course. $800. >> a free holiday, $800. >> it sounds good to me. >> all right. >> i thought it would be something fun, adventurous, and i wanted to be a part of it. i got to istanbul. i had no idea what to expect. all i knew is which hotel to go to.
just behind this hotel is these big grand bazaars. i loved walking up and down the streets and just seeing all the sights and the history and the culture. first time i had ever been abroad, and it was a great experience. the morning before i leave, rai had his contact meet me at my hotel. >> how you doing? >> the guy didn't speak a word of english. everything looked fine. i get to the airport. there was a drug-sniffing dog.
i had never had any suspicion. so i had nothing to worry about. then the dog sniffed at my bags. [ barking ] >> i didn't go oh my god, there's drugs. no, not at all. >> please come this way. >> sure. >> i'm thinking maybe it smells like leather goods. >> passport, please. what was your business in turkey? >> i tell him, i was sent to turkey to pick up leather goods. i never at all thought i was doing anything other than that. >> what do you do? >> i'm an actor. i work in the states. >> really? >> yeah. i was in "seventh heaven," "bounce," "dude, where's my car?"
>> nice. i love that movie. >> they didn't find anything, and i get through customs with no problem. rai was there waiting for me and gave me a ride back to my house. he says to me -- >> see? i told you it was going to be fine. >> like i was dumb for worrying at all. >> no, you were right. >> and i thought to myself, there is no reason to worry because i absolutely trusted this guy. i was depressed when i left. i was happy and upbeat when i got back. >> so, you want to do another trip for me? what about next week? >> i just didn't have time. i was acting a lot. i definitely want to keep this opportunity open. so i encouraged this trip to my friends, my family. >> hey, rai! how you doing, buddy? >> i introduced my brother. >> hey, peter. >> fancy making a trip for me? >> yeah, that would be great. >> good. i like that.
>> now in the ninth day of his captivity here in pakistan. his whereabouts -- >> hey. >> my brother calls me up and says i'm not going. >> peter, what do you mean you're not going? >> he goes it's not to turkey. it's to pakistan. daniel pearl just literally got kidnapped a couple of days before. no one wants to go to pakistan. >> don't worry. i'm going call him right now. >> -- we will kill daniel. these demands include -- >> peter won't go. >> you need to get your brother to do it. you recommended your brother. you vouched for him. and now it's just going to cost me a lot of money. >> peter won't do it. >> you are putting me in a bad place, erik. >> i'm not a pushover at all, but i definitely don't like to let people down. >> okay. >> i took his place. >> i'll do it. i'll go.
>> believe me, erik, you'll have a great time. >> if i knew then what i know now, i would have killed rai. i would take that man's life and not feel any regret about it whatsoever. i get into the airport, and there is guy there, and he is holding a sign that says erik aude, like he just drew it on napkin, basically. >> hey. >> how you doing? >> good. >> the first words out of the guy's mouth was -- >> rai messed up. >> he said we would have had a great time. >> but now we have to go karachi to bring all the jackets back. >> when are you guys coming
back? >> when are you leaving? >> yeah. we'll be back by friday. >> rai told me i was going to be shown around, i was going to be introduced to girls. i'm not going to be introduced to anyone. everything i was told to get me to pakistan is not going to happen at all. definitely don't like knowing that i'm going to be stuck in a hotel for five days. so i'm thinking to myself this is a damn homeless shelter. >> voila. >> you guys are leaving me here? >> you're going to be fine. you'll love it. >> no, no, you're taking me to a nice hotel. >> just one little thing. stay in your room. okay? >> they tell me "stay in your room. this place is not safe at all for americans." daniel pearl is really big in the newspapers at the time. all i know is i'm not scared of anything. i'm going to go out and do what i want.
so i'm jogging through the streets of pakistan, and i see three cute girls. they got the scarves on, but i can still see their faces. i'm how you ladies doing? my name is erik. i'm from hollywood. a big actor. my god, your eyes are beautiful. >> they don't speak any english, but you don't need to speak a language to still flirt. >> so what you girls doing tonight? >> come back with me, introduce me to your family. >> i've heard i'm not that hard on the eyes. >> a guy comes out of one of the shops. >> this your brother? >> and i'm laughing, oh, what is this guy going to do? >> put your hands up. they're the same. i'm just talking to the lady. put your hands on me one more time. >> i let my bag drop. and this guy actually pushes me a little hard. people start staring. so i let him go. >> where is my bag?
>> and my bag is gone. >> where is my bag? where is my bag? >> that quick. >> got my damn bag, man. this place sucks. >> and i'm thinking to myself, i'm the biggest idiot on earth to be on the streets of pakistan. thursday morning, the phone rings. my ride with the luggage is here. so a guy brings up one suitcase. >> hey. >> hey. it only had seven jackets in it. so this is definitely off. this doesn't seem right. >> there is only one suitcase. why is it so little? >> this is just the first trip. we see how it works and we'll take it from there plus, rai got a very good deal. >> one suitcase?
it doesn't make sense. >> are you ready? let's go. >> yeah. the truth is i was counting the minutes until i can get out of pakistan. the guy, he is like sorry about the convenience. >> next time we'll do it right go, out, have fun, pick up chicks. >> yeah, sure, that sounds great. next time i come. i have no intention of ever coming back to pakistan. i get to the airport. i always think back to that moment, because those were my last few minutes of freedom. everyone was in on it, knowing full well what i was being used to do. and not one of them ever tried to let me know or warn me. not one of them.
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i'm walking through the airport. i get to the back of the line, and the guys that see me in the back, and they wave me to the front. and i'm like all right, i don't have to wait in this line. cool. i never had any suspicion, so i had nothing to worry about. the guy says -- >> business or pleasure? >> and i said well, pleasure is my business. so stupid. >> open. >> yeah, sure. >> this guy doesn't even bother with my backpack or my luggage. he just goes through the suitcase with all the leather goods. really didn't seem interested in it at all. >> it's good. >> so i zip it up, and this guy grabs my arm. he says -- >> you're carrying narcotics.
>> i didn't think there was anything illegal in the case. i really didn't. these guys are, like, you got to come with us. >> check the luggage. >> so they take me to one waiting room, and all i'm thinking about is i haven't done anything wrong. so there is no need for you to be doing this. they really need to let me get going. keep the suitcase, i don't care. i want to get on my flight. >> what is this? >> why are you showing me this? >> this is opium. >> i knew immediately that i had been used. i knew immediately rai had set me up. everything he had told me was a lie.
this guy that i had known for a couple of years now and considered my friend. >> believe me, erik, you'll have a good time. >> had just set me up to unknowingly smuggle drugs for him. i felt like such an idiot. >> i need to speak with the american embassy. >> this little guy says to me "embassy can't help you." >> we're going hang you after the 5:00 prayer. >> i'm terrified at this moment. i can't believe this is happening to me. someone tells you they're going kill you, can we put the handcuffs on you now, no one there even had a chance to hold me down. >> stop him! >> all i heard is a gun being fired. i wasn't trying to escape. i was trying to find a phone. i hit the ground and just crashed through a door at the end of the hallway and started
barricading furniture in front of that door. i was full well expecting them just to turn that door into cheez whiz and shoot it all up. i figure if i'm going to die, i'm going make my life worth something. and i'm just going warn others. >> open, open! >> since this is my last day on earth, i've got to make my life count. >> open it! >> i was dialing 099, 911, 411, it was pointless. outside in the hallway, i hear -- >> open up! >> i want to speak to someone in the embassy. >> i hear an american voice. he says -- >> you want to talk to an american? >> are you from the embassy? >> he says dea. >> want to come talk to us? come talk? >> hell know i'm not coming out there. they say they're going to hang
me. >> and then he cleared his throat and said -- >> they were kidding. >> they were kidding. wow. i was like how are you going to kid about something like that? >> please, come with us, mr. aude. >> i'm thinking now that the dea is here, they're going help me. i really believed that as long as we could get rai arrested, that i'll be released and the real drug smuggler will be, you know, punished. >> so, erik, what happened? why are you here? >> a friend of mine rai sends me out here to pakistan to pick up leather goods. i had no idea it was drug-related. >> they were not buying my story whatsoever. the guy on the right, he goes -- >> you know, they don't give you the death penalty.
they're going to give you at least 20 years. >> man, your heart is beating so fast. are you scared or something? >> one guy tells me they're going to hang me. i've just been arrested. >> of course i'm scared. >> you know, you think you're a tough guy. >> this country is going to show you how weak you really are. >> he's all yours. >> in their eyes, i was guilty. >> enjoy your time here. >> they weren't trying to help me with anything. i can't believe this is happening to me. here i am thinking i'm going to get on the flight. next thing i know, i'm in a jail cell. there is guys everywhere. they're all long beards, little caps. someone says something. i don't understand a word he is saying. and then i hear someone else say -- >> what country? >> america.
the wrong words to say. >> back up! what the hell? hands off! hands off. get back! i wasn't scared because of these guys. i'm scared about what is going to happen to me now. this girl from the embassy finally shows up. >> how are you doing? >> i go great. >> never better. >> she went -- >> really? >> no. what's going to happen to me? >> they're going to decide how many days to give you for physical remand. >> what's physical remand?
>> they figure if they can't get you to tell them the truth, that they can beat it out of you. >> you are going to be tortured. they wanted ten days. i asked for three. >> going to be tortured. wow. it just keeps getting better and better. i'm being led through like the dirtiest corridors and the idea was to bring capital into the affordable housing space in south africa, with a fund that offers families of modest income safe and good accommodation. citi got involved very early on and showed an enormous commitment. and that gave other investors confidence. citi's really unique, because they bring deep understanding of what's happening in africa.
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>> where are you from? >> america. i live in california. >> he says to me -- >> i've never tortured an american before. >> "i'm going to look forward to this." they would start with my feet. >> who gave the drugs to you? >> i don't know. >> he beat the bottom of my feet. >> what's their number? where do they live? >> i don't know. >> where did you get the drugs? >> they were given to me at the hotel i was staying at. >> who gave you these drugs? >> i don't know. >> where are they?
>> what's their phone number. >> where do they live? >> i don't know where they are. >> having the bottom of your feet whipped again and again and again and again until your feet swell up. >> i don't know! >> it's so excruciating. >> i thought i was carrying leather jackets. eventually it numbs out on itself. >> i don't know who they are. i thought i was carrying jackets. >> where did you get the drugs? >> i don't know. >> when i was in third grade, i was run over by a school bus. >> where are they? >> i don't know. >> i had my pelvis shattered like a glass jar. i don't like pain, but i'm used to it. it's nothing new for me. i can scream -- >> where are they? >> and look weak, or i can just
take it until it passes. >> i don't know. what can you do when someone knows a different truth than you? >> where are they? >> i don't know. i felt hopeless. i felt completely small. i'd never felt small before. i felt -- i couldn't believe this was happening to me. on the third day, they wanted me to admit the drugs were mine. >> just admit the drugs were yours.
>> just admit. it will all be done. all i had to hold on was my innocence. i never even came close to admitting anything. i get taken on, like, an hour road trip to the central jail. it's in rawalpindi. it's the biggest prison in all of pakistan. 6,000 prisoners. it's a huge prison, these big monster doors in the middle. but it feels like they're the doors to mordor.
what they do is they humble you before you get into that prison. one guard kind of motions to me. he goes -- >> you're dead inside. >> i knew what was on the other side of the door was not good because it was chanting, like everyone was in on it. my whole mentality is i'm going to be john wayne up in this mug. if i'm going to be executed, i'm going to walk up the steps with a little swagger, flip the hangman a nickel and go down with both thumbs up.
all the frustration from the days leading up to that, thinking about rai setting me up, getting tortured and humiliated, they're going to know my name by the end of that afternoon. that's for damn sure. because i'm not in prison with them, they're in prison with me. and i'm body slamming these guys. i'm landing shots. i'm making it count. i'd never been beat in a fight. and i've been in a lot of fights. trust me, i was not going to lose this one. because these guys were unprepared for me. bring it on, baby! who wants some? hit me, come on, let's do this. everyone up. >> who wants some? come on!
who wants some? >> every one of those guys were my woman that day. it felt good to know that i was so much stronger and faster than these guys, and it felt good to dish it back for once. and i pushed somebody over the balcony, and they fell on to the crowd below, and i realized right then and there i messed up so bad.
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sunday in brussels. but the country's federal prosecutor says the eighth suspected terrorist attacker, salah abdeslam was not among those captured. a southwest flight bound for los angeles was diverted after several passengers began to act suspiciously and refused to follow crew instructions. the flight landed safely. the unruly passengers were arrested. no threat on board now back to "lock up abroad." i got taken to death row. and i still hadn't even been sentenced yet. i'm on death row? death row is where the gallows
are. the cell that i was in was facing it. i was clinging to knowing that i'm innocent, and once they find out, find rai and arrest him, that i'll be released. i just want a fighting chance to go home. that's all i need. october first year i'm in jail. one dea guy comes. >> hey. do you recognize any of these photos? >> immediately i say -- >> that's rai. >> that's rai gharizian. >> rai has been arrested. >> oh, this is great!
>> this is my steps toward freedom. >> now that you guys know i'm innocent, what are you doing to get me out of here? >> i'm sorry, erik. there is nothing we can do. >> what do you mean? you got the guy. why? why am i still in prison? >> wait, wait, wait, what are you talking about? you got the real guy. why am i still in jail? >> there is nothing we can do. >> even knowing that i was innocent, they still could not get involved. >> but you're the drug enforcement agency! >> here i'm facing a possible death sentence, and they can't do anything for me. and i hated them for that. >> jenab, jenab, out. >> i started learning the language. >> i'm hungry. go get me some fruit. i'll give you 100 rupees. my mom sent me money through the
embassy. return. tike. and that's where it started. he is like do you need anything else? i started asking for bigger things. kfc chicken, go get me some ice cream. eventually i told the guard -- >> cell phone. >> i want a cell phone. he's like i can do that. i cost me 12,000 rupees. i was taking a huge gamble. i always had the fear that he might try to rat me out. and i would get beaten within an inch of my life.
i contacted my mom from my cell phone the very next day. >> mom? mom, it's me. and the first thing i say is mom, i didn't do this. and she said erik, i know you don't do this. >> i'm really sorry this happened. >> my mom was drying on phone. she is "how are they treating you?" she says, "erik, don't worry, i'm going to get you out of there". >> look, i got to go. i don't have a lot of minutes. >> it felt good to hear a familiar voice. i wasn't locked off from the rest of the world. it felt good. it's january 3rd, and i had gone to court a whole bunch of times in a short amount of time.
my lawyer said erik, you're going to be going home soon. >> we arrange a really good deal for you. >> you're going pay the judge a thousand dollars. he's going to give you a two-year prison sentence. >> because of the time you have already spent you should be able to go home within the next four months. >> this is wonderful. let's do this. >> this is great. >> okay. you just have to plead guilty and he'll give you the two years. >> plead guilty? >> i said why do i have to plead guilty? i didn't do this. >> that's how it's done here. you plead guilty. you pay the judge some money and you go home. >> and i was left with the hard choice. plead guilty for a crime you didn't commit and live the rest of your life looking in the mirror and just being disgusted with what you see. by this time, i had lost my house. i lost my money, i lost my life, i lost everything that i had to look forward to. only thing i had left at this point was my pride.
>> how do you plead? >> my lawyer actually made me make my decision. he says to me -- >> erik, what's worth more to you? >> your pride or your freedom? i knew right then and there i didn't do this. i did not do this. and i did not want to plead guilty for a crime i did not commit. my pride is worth a hell of a lot more to me than my freedom. >> your honor, not guilty. >> everyone is like just shocked. judge says prosecution has proven its case against you. i was of course they did. he says --
>> seven years. >> if i plead guilty, i would have gotten out. but because i fought it and i was innocent, i got seven years. a lot of people think i'm an idiot, and they think my pride is probably my downfall, and it might be. but at the end of the day, i got to look at myself in the mirror, and i like who i am. with the people we love. for stuff we can't get anywhere else. and food that tastes like home. because the money we spend here... can help keep our town growing. on small business saturday, let's all shop small. for the neighborhood, the town, the home we love. on november 28th, shop small.
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before i went to jail, i had everything and i never appreciated where i was at life. i was never content with how much money i had or what i had in the fridge to eat. prison let me know exactly how wonderful every single little thing in my life really is. walking out into a cold night, walking back in to a warm house, getting under blankets and flipping on the television. being able to just walk and talk and run, those are all luxuries that i never, ever knew how
precious they were before i went to jail. usually monsoon season was during july and august. cockroaches would come out because of the water rising. i started feeling like i had tooth aches in the side of my head. my ears became infected with fungus. i can take a lot of pain, but when you've got something inside your ear that you can't scratch, it's like there is a bug in your head and it keeps gnawing at you. they brought these quack doctors. >> i don't know what's wrong, man. my ears are killing me right here. i can't sleep. i can't do anything, i can't think, i can't read. what is it? what is that? >> here is where it gets really
worse. >> oh, god! is it supposed to be like that? oh, god. oh, god! oh, god! >> they popped both my eardrums. it hurt so damn bad, i couldn't think, i couldn't sleep. i could barely eat. the only time i ever contemplated suicide was because of my ears. i would tell myself just five more minutes, just hang in there five more minutes. my goal every day was just to live five more minutes. one of the days that was really bad, we had goldleaf in charge
of our cell. he was famous for having prisoners beaten until they grid to give him cigarettes. he was even more famous for having had over a couple hundred prisoners beaten to death. he had no conscience whatsoever. >> give me 500 rupees. >> and i'm in no mood to be messed with right now. >> give me 500 rupees. >> and i said to him -- >> go to hell. >> what? >> go to hell. >> he has his little cane. he thinks he's about to hit me. i remember grabbing his hand and hitting him with his own hand.
and i just lost control of myself and i beat that man worse than anything. you can mess with the other guards. you can mess with the prisoners. but you don't mess with goldie. i dragged him like luggage out of my room. and i locked myself in my room to do two things. repair and pray. first time i prayed, i had never been religious, but i was like, god, if you can get me out of this right now, that would be real cool. i said, thank you so much for this being me. thank you so much for not being
my brother or one of my friends. tell my family i love them. just give me the strength to i got a beanie on. and i'm ready go to war. i just wanted everyone to know that i didn't go out without a fight. i couldn't kill myself. so i was going to let these guys do it for me. you look well. what's new, flo? well, a name your price tool went missing last week. name your what, now? it gives you coverage options based on your budget. i just hope whoever stole it knows . . no. i'm sorry, gustav. we have to go back to the pet store. [ gustav squawks ] he's gonna meet us there. the name your price tool. still only at progressive.com.
collapsed. i was being held out like this and my right hand was broken each finger one by one. i remember thinking to myself, just let it end. just let it end. [ screaming ] >> what happened here? >> i hear the superintendent's voice. goldie is telling them they found drugs on me. that i attacked them. i'm scared about what's going to happen to me now. >> he's lying. he's lying. >> what happened? >> this guy wanted 500 rupees from me.
i told him to go to hell. >> they are robbing me. i'm going to die. he's lying. >> enough! just leave. >> he fired goldie right then and there. the superintendent hadn't arrived, i would have been killed. i would have been dead. i wouldn't be here today. >> as long as i'm here, you will left alone. >> after that, it was like night and day for me. everyone was so grateful for having gotten rid of a monster like that. i went from being the most hated prisoner there to one of most respected. it's amazing because when i went into that prison, i went in swinging.
it was a good turnaround because i never changed. they all changed. i always remember thinking to myself, i maintained my innocence. and i got to go out of that jail with my head high. i was beyond happy, a huge relief. >> i'm so glad you're home. >> my mom's very important to me. i love her. >> it's just the greatest thing in the world. i thought i would never see him again. and he's home. he's home and he's safe. oh, my god, it's great. >> it was really good feeling to see so many people and so many familiar faces as soon as i got back.
it was a real good feeling to realize how much all these people cared about me. >> what was it like in there? what have these three years been like for you? >> i will talk about that stuff later. but i'm lucky to be here right now. on american soil. and i'm never going to take advantage of that again. and i'm glad it happened to me. i'm just glad it happened to me. >> welcome home, erik. >> welcome home. >> yay. [ applause ] >> the whole experience made me appreciate what's important in life. and i have to sometimes remind myself just how great everything in life really is. i needed to go to jail to know just how lucky i am.
my ambition to try to do this well exceeded my talents at it. >> what? >> i felt complete regret and foolishness for even trying to take something like this on. it was just way beyond my league. two colombian guys they come to the room and they pull the packages out of the suitcase. they laid them on the bed and