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Renton woman jailed in Mexico for nearly 3 years is freed

KOMO photo

MEXICO CITY -- A Renton woman who has spent 2 1/2 years in a Mexican prison walked out a free woman Friday.

Nestora Salgado wore her community police uniform as she took those first steps outside prison walls and was greeted by one of her officers.

"I love you very much Seattle," Salgado told KOMO News as she boarded a bus to leave the prison. "I am so happy for all of the support you've given me. I love you . Soon I will see you there!"

Nestora Salgado left Renton to go to her hometown of Olinala in the state of Guerrero to fight against organized crime, forming a community police group, which is legal in Guererro.

"When the violence started happening, when there were kidnappings every day, when there was murders, when there was extortions, all these things," said Espinoa's daughter Graciel Rodriguez said in an interview with KOMO News earlier this week. "It broke her heart."

But Salgado's defense attorney says an ex-governor of the state of Guerrero, along with his attorney general have detained several community police members in small towns to -- according to many who live there -- send a message of intimidation to other groups rising up.

Salgado, who is a U.S. citizen, has been in a high security prison ever since, most of the time spent in solitary confinement, supporters said.

But after an outpouring of public support for Salgado, combined with a recent United Nations ruling in her favor, Guerrero state judges dismissed the charges of kidnapping and homicide due to lack of evidence, according to the U.S. Campaign to Free Nestora Salgado.

Congressman Adam Smith, who has been among those supporting Salgado's release, joined in celebrating Salgado's freedom.

"I... extend my sincere thanks to all those throughout the Seattle region, the international community and to the various human rights advocates who have joined together in calling for Nestora's freedom from this unlawful detention," Smith said in a statement issued after Salgado's release. "I am thrilled to know that Nestora can now return home to her family who have been relentless in their difficult fight to free her."

KOMO News has been in Mexico City all week to cover her expected release. We asked her Tuesday if being freed would make her happy.

"I wish I could say I was happy, but I'm not -- not yet," Salgado said.

She knows even when she is free, many others like her are still imprisoned illegally in her state, and that is why she she says she plans to go back to her fight against injustice and corruption in Mexico, even though she says others may try to assassinate her.

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