TAMPA – The Tampa couple accused of kidnapping their sons at gunpoint and absconding on a sailboat across the Gulf of Mexico tried to formally seek asylum from Cuban authorities, asserting the lives of their children were at risk from U.S. government officials, one parent’s lawyer said Monday.
Joshua and Sharyn Hakken met with a lawyer in Cuba after arriving there in April, and were initially told they would be safe from U.S. law enforcement while their asylum application was reviewed, said Tampa lawyer Bryant Camareno, who is representing Sharyn Hakken.
“They sought counsel, and they actually met with a lawyer in Cuba,” Camareno said. “They felt that their kids’ lives were in danger from the (U.S.) government.” He said the couple also believed that if Cuba rejected them, they would have time to seek protection at other foreign governments’ embassies in Havana.
The couple’s dreams of a safe haven abroad were short-lived. Within days of the Hakkens’ arrival at Hemingway Marina outside Havana, Cuban authorities gave the U.S. permission to apprehend the family and extradite them to Florida. Both parents are jailed as they await trial in Hillsborough Circuit Court on charges including kidnapping and child abuse.
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