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Lancaster Man Goes to Prison in Pakistan

January 08, 2003|Richard Fausset | Times Staff Writer

A 22-year-old budding actor from Lancaster has been sentenced to seven years in a Pakistani prison after being convicted of illegal drug possession, U.S. State Department officials said Tuesday.

Erik Aude -- a former high school football star who had a small role in the film "Dude, Where's My Car?" -- faced a possible death sentence after his Feb. 15 arrest by Pakistani officials, who said they caught him with 3,600 grams of opium at the Islamabad airport.

His mother, Sherry Aude, said her son was duped by a man he met at a Burbank gym into thinking he was importing leather goods. Since his arrest, she said, he has been beaten by prison guards and threatened by fellow prisoners with anti-American sentiments.

She said his sentence, which was handed down last week, was "as good as the death penalty."

"In all of his letters he was really positive, because he knew how hard he'd worked to prove his innocence," she said.

In Washington, State Department officials said consular representatives met with Aude regularly and attended his trial to ensure he was granted due process under Pakistani law.

Citing privacy laws, U.S. officials said Tuesday that they could not discuss many details of the case. But in the past, they said they could do little to help Aude if he was found guilty.

The State Department's most recent human rights report for Pakistan cites incidents of prisoners being tortured, jailed on false charges and held after their sentences expired.

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