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The Daily Tar Heel

Frampton supporters ramp up efforts


Paul Frampton remains jailed in Argentina.

Supporters of UNC physics professor Paul Frampton, who remains in an Argentine prison seven months after being jailed, are still working toward his release.

Frampton was arrested at a Buenos Aires airport in January on charges of smuggling cocaine but has steadfastly maintained his innocence. In recent months he has found some support on campus and internationally.

UNC mathematics professor Mark Williams is leading the effort to expedite Frampton’s release.

“I think (Frampton) realizes now that there’s a good chance he might be convicted,” Williams said.

“It’s going to take a little bit of a miracle to get him out of there.”

The charges against Frampton have received international attention, as Clarin, a newspaper in Argentina, published an article about his case.

Williams said a British reporter also contacted supporters about producing a TV documentary about Frampton’s plight.

He said the documentary might be aired on MSNBC in the near future, and supporters hope it will lead to more publicity and donations.

Williams said Frampton’s case has received more international publicity than in the U.S. He added that another UNC professor is contacting the U.S. Department of State.

Frampton said during the summer he believed he might have been released as early as July, but was then told his trial would not be held until late November or December.

UNC officials notified Frampton his pay would be suspended in February.

Some faculty members have viewed the case as a threat to tenure, as Frampton’s pay was suspended despite his tenure status.

About 80 UNC and international academics signed a letter Aug. 1 directed toward UNC faculty, detailing their objections to his suspension of pay while he’s detained.

Supporters have been funneling financial donations through Frampton’s ex-wife Anne-Marie Frampton in an attempt to raise money for a private lawyer.

Frampton, whose health has worsened since his arrest, is being represented by an Argentinean public defender who is handling about 30 other cases, Williams said.

UNC mathematics professor and supporter Patrick Eberlein said hiring a private lawyer could help Frampton be released on house arrest.

After a recent business visit to Argentina, Eberlein said he learned others have been jailed for two years in similar cases.

Physics professor Hugon Karwowski, who teamed up with Williams, helped set up a website to spread awareness and raise funds.

Jack Griffith, a professor of microbiology, said he got involved because he was concerned by the appearance of a lack of strong support from UNC administration.

“It makes the faculty worried. What if I was in that situation? Would I be treated the same way?” Griffith said.

“I think those of us who wrote the letter were trying hard to make sure the administration does know there’s a lot of support for him here.”

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