Yanira Maldonado freed from Mexican jail - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Yanira Maldonado freed from Mexican jail

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NOGALES, Ariz. -

Yanira Maldonado, the valley mother imprisoned in Mexico on drug smuggling charges, was checked out of jail about 10 p.m. Thursday, according to a family spokesperson.

Maldonado has been exonerated on charges that she tried to smuggle 12 pounds of marijuana underneath the seat of the bus she was riding in last week.

A Mexican soldier initially questioned Yanira's husband in the case, but arrested her after she offered to be a translator for her husband.

According to the family's attorney, surveillance video may have been the key evidence that led to her release.

The surveillance video shown in court from the bus station that attorneys say shows Yanira boarding the bus holding only a blanket, a purse and a bottle of water.

After her release, she spoke to the media, even thanking them for their coverage and still has no bad feelings towards the country of Mexico.

"You guys did an amazing job out there for me.. that I was in there.. that I was innocent.  That was the key I would say.  I love Mexico.  My family is still there.  It's not Mexico's fault.. so it's a few people who knows.. I probably would go back.. Mexico is a beautiful place," she said.

When asked if she forgave them?  Yanira replied, "I do...I'm not frustrated...no...I was questioning myself...someone did this,  but they are cowards...they had to do it like that to get to where they wanted to get...you know...the stuff...but they should be more honest and do things right."

Statement from Sen. Jeff Flake:
"Though I'm sure this last week has been a nightmare for her, I'm thankful that Mrs. Maldonado's clear innocence was proved and that she is now home safe with her family."

Statement from Rep. Matt Salmon:
"I am absolutely thrilled to confirm that Yanira Maldonado has been released and is currently on her way back home to America with her family. I received encouraging reports from her husband Gary earlier today that her release looked promising and was constantly assured in my conversations with U.S. and Mexican officials that this situation would be resolved fairly and quickly. I am heartened that this was the case and Mrs. Maldonado is now coming home where she belongs."

Gov. Jan Brewer said, "I know it was stressful and so emotional for her and the family and the children.. I am just so grateful.. I know that she knew that she has a strong faith.. she was praying and last night her prayers were answered."

We're told the family is en route back to Goodyear.  We'll continue to follow this case.  Stay with FOX 10 News for updates.

PREVIOUS STORY: The valley mom who still sits in a Mexican jail accused of smuggling drugs could be released within hours. Yanira Maldonado's family is feeling very confident Thursday night that her ordeal may soon be over.

That judge has until Friday at 6 p.m. to decide. But we are hearing from family that a release could come as soon as Thursday night.

The mayor of Sonora, Mexico has released a statement saying he believes that she is innocent.

The family held a news conference Thursday night in Nogales to explain the developments.

"We're hoping it will be over soon. If it was today it would be great but we know that the judge has 72 hours from last Tuesday at 6 for an extension… So that's the time period that she has to make that decision… it's very emotional, it's exhausting. I'm just hoping that she remains in the place she's at cause she seems safe, watched over by the director of the prison, so we're just waiting for that call. Once we get the call then we'll know more about when she's going to be released… I'm pretty sure she has a strong case, I don't think any judge is going to find different," said Gary Maldonado Thursday night.

New evidence was given to the judge Thursday. It's surveillance video of Yanira Maldonado and her husband boarding the bus.

"The video to us is critical because it shows exactly what we've said from the very beginning -- she didn't board the bus with any packages. She didn't strap them under her seat with bungee cords," said Jones.

As Yanira awaits her fate, she told a Mexican TV station on Wednesday that it's likely she will never return back to Mexico if she is released.

"I am nervous of my country. There is something inside that hurts -- it's hurt me," said Yanira [translated from Spanish]. "There is a lot of faith. I believe in the divine justice. I believe in God, he listens to my prayers. He is with me, I am not alone."

In this interview, she said she has always defended Mexico when people talk harshly about her home country.

Maldonado has been jailed in Mexico for over a week now.

Mexican officials say she and her husband tried to smuggle packages of marijuana back into the United States by strapping them underneath their bus seats, a claim she denies. The case is now in the hands of a judge.

The family says once she is released she will be driven straight across the border back to the United States where she will be reunited with her family.

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