A retired American couple, Jon and Linda Grant, protested in front of the Tanzanian Embassy on Tuesday about their unfair detention and treatment in Tanzania.
The California residents protested outside the Tanzanian Embassy in Washington after they were barred from entering.
They held placards warning others of their experience in the country while pleading with the Tanzanian ambassador to give them audience.
The alleged chain of incidents began as they left Tanzania after previously visiting South Africa. The couple had purchased an etched giraffe bone at a game reserve in South Africa as a souvenir of which they were assured was legal. They were also assured that they would not have trouble with authorities in Tanzania.
As the couple went through security to leave Tanzania, they were detained and sent to jail. Their passports and belongings were seized as they were charged with poaching; killing the country’s national animal.
The U.S. ambassador to Tanzania and California representative to congress, Jackie Speier, had to intervene in the retired couple’s ordeal. Their charges were then reduced to exporting a trophy without a permit.
The couple have claimed that their experience cost them above $62,000 in court fees, fines and bribes.
Rep. Jackie Speier and other staffers joined the couple in front of the embassy as they asked to see the ambassador. She said:
”I’ve had to intercede on behalf of constituents in foreign countries before, but nothing like this,”
“This really smacks of all kinds of illegal graft and bribery, and I think it’s a warning to all American tourists: Beware.”
Rep. @jackiespeier (left) joins constituents Linda and Jon Grant of Foster City outside the Tanzanian Embassy in Washington, D.C. The couple was detained in Tanzania for three weeks over a giraffe bone souvenir they purchased on vacation. It took $62,000 in fines, fees and bribes before they could come home. They were protesting that the Tanzanian Ambassador will not meet with them
She added that she has been requesting to meet the ambassador since April but has gotten no response.
The Grants have traveled dozens of times to Africa doing charity work through the Forster City Rotary Club.
They said they would never travel to Africa again because of this ordeal. “It took the spark out of us to do that anymore,” Jon Grant said.
The couple is scheduled to meet with State Department officials and House Foreign Affairs Committee staff to discuss the matter.