DODGEVILLE, Wis. - A Dodgeville family said their son behind bars 4,000 miles away in Ireland hasn't committed any crimes.
Zach Gevelinger's family issued a statement regarding the news he was detained in a Northern Ireland prison after visiting a woman that authorities said is connected to a pipe bomb incident.
Gevelinger's aunt wrote in an email, "Zachary Gevelinger has neither committed nor been charged with any crime. We fully expect that Zach will be released very soon. The family asks that you respect their privacy, and will have no further comment."
Gevelinger, 24, flew to Ireland July 1 then traveled to Belfast in Northern Ireland a few days later. There, he visited Christine Connor at a women's prison on July 6. Authorities said Connor is connected to a pipe bomb incident involving police. The two met through social media.
Councillor Angela Nelson is an elected representative who helped Gevelinger get legal representation. Nelson said there was nothing sinister about the visit and the pair arranged to meet before Connor was arrested. Connor was supposed to show Gevelinger around Belfast.Dodgeville man being held in Northern Ireland prison
Gevelinger's two-hour visit was cut short and he was arrested as he left the prison.
"He wasn't arrested under any charges because here in the North of Ireland the police have special powers. They don't have to charge you with anything. They can arrest you and hold you for periods up to seven or more days," said Nelson in a phone interview.
Nelson said Gevelinger is a stranger in their country and didn't have anyone that could look out for him.
UW-Platteville political science professor John Rink remembered Gevelinger as a well-liked student.
"He was an advocate for the underdog, those who were less well off, discriminated against, treated unfairly, very strong sense of what was just and what was unjust," said Rink.
Nelson said Gevelinger is expected to be in custody until July 15, one day before his scheduled plane ride home to Wisconsin.
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