Aron Pálmi Ágústsson (born 1983) is scheduled to be released from a prison in Texas on August 17 after ten years of imprisonment for punishable sexual behavior. He is scheduled to return to Iceland on August 25.
“His deepest wish is to come back home,” Einar S. Einarsson, head of the Rights Justice Freedom Campaign Group (RJF), the organization that has fought for Ágústsson’s release, told icelandreview.com.
In 1997, at the age of 13, Ágústsson was convicted for punishable sexual behavior towards a young boy, and was subsequently imprisoned in a juvenile detention facility in Merlin, Texas. He was later transferred to custody in Giddings, Texas. Ágústsson was never transferred to an adult prison.
“The Icelandic government has from the very start done all they can to have young Ágústsson released or transferred back home to serve out his sentence in an Icelandic institution for juveniles,” Einarsson said.
“Despite all the efforts of The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Icelandic Embassy in Washington and despite an international agreement about the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, the COE Convention, everything has been in vain as the Office of the Governor of Texas appears not to recognize the international deals made by the US Department of State in Washington,” Einarsson claimed. “Our officials and we might as well have spoken to a rock.”
“All Ágústsson did was to fiddle with the genitalia of his seven-year-old playmate when he was a child himself. It was a childish mistake for which he would not have been imprisoned in Iceland and probably nowhere else in the States but Texas,” Einarsson stated.
Ágústsson is an Icelandic citizen who moved with his mother to Texas in 1985. His parents are both Icelandic, but he has an American stepfather.
Ágústsson has been serving the last four years of his sentence under house arrest in Beaumont, Texas, where he is required to wear a GPS monitor around his ankle.
“He is only allowed to go to one grocery store, the laundry service and to masses in one particular church, and lately to university and back,” Einarsson of RJF said.
RJF originally stood for “Robert James Fischer” and its goal was to have US born chess legend Bobby Fischer freed from detention in Japan in 2005 and to provide him with the Icelandic citizenship.
“This was after US authorities had revoked Bobby’s passport without proper notification and he was arrested at Narita Airport [in Japan],” Einarsson explained.
Apart from Einarsson, other well-known Icelanders such as former MP Gudmundur G. Thórarinsson, historian Gardar Sverrisson and Chess Grandmaster Helgi Ólafsson are members of the RJF Group. “What we have in common, apart from being human rights activists, is our love for chess,” Einarsson said.
“After our goal of freeing Bobby Fischer and bringing him to Iceland was reached, Ágústsson’s situation was brought to our attention and we were challenged to try to have him freed too, which many found a worthier goal,” Einarsson said.
“Although we were not successful in freeing Ágústsson from prison, at least we managed to encourage him, build up his spirit and so prevent him from breaking down mentally. And were able to finance his studies,” Einarsson added.
For the past one and a half year, Ágústsson has studied behavioral psychology at the Lamar University in Texas, during which time he was elected for the student council and a chairman of the editor committee of the student yearbook.
Ágústsson is currently writing a book about his experience of the justice system in Texas.
Photo courtesy of RJF.