A student at University of Redlands has been jailed in Japan for almost nine months, and his Northern California mother is pleading for his release.
Leah Smith says her son, Julian Adame, was traveling after studying abroad when he never showed up to a planned trip to Thailand to visit a friend. That friend got worried.
It turned out that Adame was in jail in Tokyo.
That occurred in May 2018, and Smith has been pleading for help to free her son since then.
"I'm losing it now at this point too," Smith told KTLA sister station KTXL in Sacramento. "I just want him home. This is ridiculous; he's not a criminal."
Smith says the U.S. embassy in Tokyo told her Adame was detained after a night of bar-hopping.
"He's being woken up in another bar that he doesn't remember going to and being told that he broke a lamp and he has to pay $1,000," Smith said.
Adame got scared and tried to run off to get help, Smith said.
"At one point, the police officer grabbed his arm and it snapped back and hit the officer in his chin," Smith said.
She says he's now facing a charge for "obstruction of the performance of official duties." He's pleading guilty, prepared to pay a fine, but Smith says the case keeps getting pushed back.
"It's just not fair," she said. "It's a simple case. Let's just get it done."
Adame is a University of Redlands student and was traveling on his own after completing a study-abroad program. A university spokesperson sent a statement to KTXL Tuesday, saying:
"We are aware that Julian Adame remains detained in Japan. We have been in contact with local and international law enforcement agencies in Japan to ask for status, express our concern, and offer our assistance."
Adame's friend Kate Emmons planned to meet him in Thailand after his trip to Japan. Instead, she went to see him in jail.
"We just looked at one other and cried and just basically wept for 10 minutes," Emmons told KTXL over the phone.
Emmons and Smith remain determined to bring Adame home.
Smith says the U.S. embassy in Tokyo has been forwarding letters from her son.
In one letter, he wrote: "I’m scared and want to come home."
KTXL reached out to the State Department, which responded Wednesday morning:
"We can confirm that U.S. citizen Julian Adame was arrested in Tokyo on May 22, 2018. The safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas is one of our highest priorities. We are providing all appropriate consular assistance to Mr. Adame. Consular officers are in contact with Mr. Adame’s family and friends, and visit him at the Tokyo Detention Center regularly."
In the meantime, Emmons is raising money to cover Adame's fines and flights home through a GoFundMe page.
"What was supposed to be a fun trip has turned into a 6 month nightmare for Julian," Emmons wrote on the page.