American claims extortion behind Bali jailbreak

Denpasar (Indonesia) (AFP) - An American man who escaped Bali's notorious Kerobokan jail before being recaptured claimed Wednesday he broke out of the facility because he faced extortion threats.

American claims extortion behind Bali jailbreak

American claims extortion behind Bali jailbreak

Christian Beasley, who is awaiting sentencing after being caught in August with five grams of hashish, made a break from the Indonesian resort island's main prison with a fellow inmate after cutting a hole in the roof with a hacksaw.

He was found Saturday hiding on the neighbouring island of Lombok after five days on the run.

At a press conference Wednesday, the handcuffed American was paraded in front of media with chains around his ankles and wearing an orange prison uniform and balaclava.

The 32-year-old told journalists he escaped because he was being extorted -- although he did not say by whom.

"In jail they threatened me for protection money, that's why I left," he said.

Beasley said he had permission from US authorities to use marijuana for an undisclosed medical condition.

"I need rehab not four years or more in jail, please help me, in my country (it) is not a crime to use ganja -- I have (a) licence," he shouted as he was escorted away by armed officers.

But Kerobokan's chief warden, Tonny Nainggolan, rejected Beasley?s extortion claims as "total nonsense".

He added: "There is no such thing, he made it up, we protect and guarantee the safety of the inmates and detainees in Kerobokan."

Beasley escaped last Monday along with Paul Anthony Hoffman, 57.

Hoffman was immediately recaptured but Beasley managed to cross to Lombok where he evaded police for five days.

Jailbreaks are common in Indonesia, where inmates are often held in unsanitary conditions at overcrowded and poorly guarded prisons.

In May, more than 200 inmates staged a mass breakout from an overcrowded prison on Sumatra island.

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