Slidell — Anne McCabe thought that her family’s ordeal was finally over when the U.S. Embassy in South Sudan called her Thursday morning to tell her that her husband, Elton McCabe, was being released from jail.
He had been taken into custody, along with a colleague, on Oct. 14 by the National Security Services, an agency of the government that she said demanded money from him and falsely accused him of trying to kidnap an Indian businessman. On Monday, through the intervention of the U.S. Embassy in Juba, the 52-year-old businessman had been moved to a regular jail and was set to be released Thursday.
But hours later, she got another call from the embassy. The NSS had pulled up in SUVs as her husband left the jail and taken him into custody again, an action she likened to a kidnapping.
Ms. McCabe said she has been working with the offices of Sen. David Vitter and Rep. Steve Scalise to win her husband’s release. Stephen Bell, a spokesman for Scalise, confirmed that the congressman’s office is working with Anne McCabe, the embassy and the State Department concerning her husband’s imprisonment and to “make sure he is treated fairly… and released as expeditiously as possibly.’’
Ms. McCabe’s concern is heightened by her husband’s health issues, including a serious heart attack in December. He has a stent and must take a number of medications, including blood pressure medication and medication to keep the stent open. She says that during his first imprisonment, he went for a five-day period without medication.
Someone from the embassy saw her husband on four occasions during his imprisonment. She spoke to him only once, when he was moved from the custody of the NSS to a police station.
“I’ve never heard him so freaked out,’’ she said. She said that she does not know if her husband was physically harmed or deprived of food during his confinement. But she said he told her that the NSS was evil, and it was impossible to know whom to trust because of the level of corruption.
He also told her that he had been kept in total darkness for a period of 36 to 42 hours.
“He told me the only thing that kept him alive was the thought of us,’’ Ms. McCabe said. The couple has three grown children and a granddaughter.
She said that she fears he will not survive in the hands of the NSS.
McCabe first went to South Sudan in March for an investment summit, where she said he was one of the speakers.
She said that he had lost a job in Kuwait and had not succeeded in finding a new job in the United States, so he returned to South Sudan to work as a business developer. He did so at the encouragement of his colleague, Mohamed Oglah. He had told McCabe that business was booming there.
She last saw her husband Aug. 8, when he left for South Sudan.