American Dad in Japanese Jail "Frightened"

American dad Chris Savoie has said he's "very frightened" after more than a week being held with drug users and hardened criminals in a Japanese jail, according to CBS News Tokyo producer Lucy Craft.

Craft obtained an off-camera interview with Chris, of Tenn., who is sitting behind bars in Japan because he tried to reclaim his two children who were taken in a custody dispute.

"We weren't able to get very much detail," Craft said. "He wasn't allowed to talk about it. But he did say that he was very frightened because he's being housed with suspects in violent crime."

Craft, speaking from Tokyo, noted Chris' hair was unwashed and had a lot of stubble on his chin. She told his wife, Amy Savoie, in New York, her husband looked "disheveled" and "haggard" from his stay in the jail. Craft said Chris is also having trouble sleeping because the lights in the jail are always on.

Craft said, "I think he's struggling to keep his spirits up, both because the conditions in the jail are quite difficult, and also because he faces the very real prospects of a stiff prison sentence."

To Amy Savoie, who heard for the first time of her husband's condition in jail, the update was "depressing."

"This is not a criminal matter. This is a family matter," Amy said.

Chris's ex wife Noriko abducted 8-year-old Isaac and 6-year-old Rebecca and brought them to Japan in August. Last week, Chris grabbed the kids near their school. He was making a run for the U.S. consulate, but Japanese police arrested him.

Shannon Higgins, Chris' friend told CBS News, "He kept saying, 'What's going on here? What is going on? This can't be right. What legal basis do they have?"

And legal concerns are also on Amy's mind, as well.

She told "Early Show" co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez, "For years and years Japan has been telling victims of parental abduction that parental abduction is not a crime. Scores and scores and scores of families have had to suffer through this same kind of heartbreak where a parent kidnaps the children to Japan and Japan protects those parents. And when the distraught families go over there to try to enforce some kind of visitation or some custody order where they were granted full custody, or at least joint custody, Japan has turned them away and said, 'Sorry, parental abduction is not a crime.' So if parental abduction is not a crime, why is my husband in jail?"

Craft said Chris' defense attorney said the Japanese court will treat this as a criminal case, and will not involve the State Department nor the Japanese government.

However, Craft added Chris' attorney noted, the prosecution has to take into consideration this is not a normal kidnapping case, and that perhaps some leniency will be shown.

CBS News efforts to reach Chris' ex-wife were unsuccessful.

CBS News tracked down Noriko's parents' home where Craft said she believes Noriko and the children were staying up until last Monday. She said there was no sign of them at all. She added, after approaching both Noriko's mother and her father at their barber shop Tuesday morning, both refused to talk to CBS News.

"They told us to leave," Craft said. "So I'm sorry to say, they're probably in hiding somewhere."

Now Chris is waiting to see whether he will face trial or be sent home. Craft said he could spent two more weeks in the jail, as prosecutors decide how to proceed with his case.

Amy said she hopes her husband will be on a plane headed home very soon.
  • CBSNews

Comments