Oklahoma Governor Denounces American Tourist’s Arrest In Turks and Caicos As A ‘Shakedown’

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) has taken a firm and vocal stance on the case of Ryan Watson, an American tourist from his state who was arrested earlier this month in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Watson’s legal troubles began when airport security discovered ammunition in his luggage during a routine check.

Watson described the incident as a “bonehead mistake” but now faces the daunting prospect of a potential 12-year minimum prison sentence under the island nation’s strict laws. The severity of the potential punishment has prompted Gov. Stitt to characterize Watson as a victim of a “shakedown” by foreign authorities.

The governor has vowed to leverage all available political resources to secure Watson’s release, emphasizing the need to protect American citizens from what he perceives as an unjust application of the law. Stitt’s strong public support comes as Watson prepares to appear in court again on June 7.

The case of Ryan Watson bears striking similarities to that of Bryan Hagerich, another American tourist from Oklahoma who was detained in February for the same offense. Hagerich, a 39-year-old former baseball professional, has been held in custody for several weeks and faces a critical court hearing this Friday that could decide whether he risks up to 12 years in prison.

The U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas, which is responsible for overseeing U.S. affairs in Turks and Caicos, has repeatedly warned travelers to carefully check their luggage before embarking on their journey to the islands. The embassy has emphasized that the strict enforcement of local laws means even inadvertent errors can lead to significant legal troubles for unsuspecting tourists.

As both Watson and Hagerich await their respective court hearings, their families and supporters back home in Oklahoma remain hopeful that a resolution can be reached that will allow them to return home safely and put an end to their legal ordeals in the Turks and Caicos Islands.