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Cape Coral pilot home after jailed in Middle East

Posted at 9:34 PM, Apr 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-24 22:12:46-04

A Cape Coral man who's an international pilot is back home after spending 45 days in a Middle Eastern prison.

Steven Bral was changing planes in the country Oman -- where he owed a $16,000 debt -- and as he was about to board his next flight, he was taken to jail.

Omani law requires people to pay off all debts before moving out of the Country. Bral lived in Oman in 2012 while he worked for an airline there.

His family reached out to Four in Your Corner in March when he was taken to jail.

Bral described the 45 days in jail as nothing short of miserable.

"Prisoner of a war camp is the best way I could describe it. It was concrete walls and concrete floor and that was it," Bral said. "You ate off the floor with your hands. Sometimes it was the equivalent of mac-and-cheese with some beef thrown in there. Other times, It was stuff I wouldn't even feed my dog."

Police in Oman said he couldn't get out of jail unless he paid $45,000.

While in jail, he was only able to speak with his family for a few minutes at a time.

"I was so isolated. It was very, very isolating," Bral said. "Nothing to stimulate the mind or the brain, anything to read, or watch, or listen to or anything."

Last week, enough money was raised on his GoFundMe page so he could be released.

"By the grace of God and the friends and family I have, I was able to get out," Bral said.

He said seeing his family for the first time was awesome and surreal. His time in Omani jail taught him a few things:

"There's no better country than here," he said.

A second thing he learned -- to always pay his debts on time. But the most important thing he said he learned:

"You don't know how much freedom you have until you lose it," he said.

Bral said he especially wants to thank his wife, his former wife, his kis, his brother, and his sister in law.

He said he plans to continue flying internationally.