Congress and State Department on Lobby to Bring American Pilots Back from Brazil

    The owner of ExcelAire, the American company that bought the Brazilian-made Legacy jet, which collided with a Boeing 737 in the jungle of Brazil is trying to get their pilots back to the United States as soon as possible.

    He fears the Brazilian authorities are in search of a scapegoat for the worst aviation accident ever in the country, which left 154 dead.

    Three House representatives from Long Island, the same area where ExcelAire is located, have sent a letter to secretary of state Condoleezza Rice calling on her and the American government to step in in order to urge Brazilian authorities to allow Joe Lepore and Jan Paladin, the pilots, to leave Brazil.

    Rice, who is in a official mission in London hasn’t yet responded to the letter.

    The pilots had their US passport confiscated and are in an undisclosed location in Rio while the Federal Police have opened an inquiry to find out whether they are responsible for the plane tragedy. 
     
    US Congressman Peter King who is the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said he was making an appeal to the Brazilian authorities so the Americans would be able to come back home. 
     
    Steve Israel, another House member, contacted the Brazilian consulate in Rio to make sure that the American diplomats were on top of the case so that the pilots would get proper treatment from the Brazilian authorities.

    Gary Ackerman, a third congressman, contacted the Brazilian ambassador in the United States urging him to secure the liberation of the American pilots.

    In Brazil, the ExcelAire has retained a former Justice Minister, José Carlos Dias, as its lawyer and hired the public relations company Burson-Marsteller to handle the delicate situation.

    Dias has already suggested that the Americans could be made into scapegoats: "It is an inconsideration for any authority to blame anyone at this point," in a press conference on Thursday, October 6. "Most especially at this time in which the investigations are not concluded. This would just be looking for a scapegoat."

    ExcelAire’s founder and CEO, Bob Sherry, has also asked for a "political intervention" so that the pilots can return to the United States. 

    In an interview with Long Island daily Newsday, King said, "I’m sure it’s a very feverish climate in Brazil, but I am trying to make sure these two men are treated properly."

    He added that he would thank anyone in Brazil with political influence who can help bring the pilots back home.

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