Brittany Alkonis, whose Navy lieutenant husband is serving a three-year prison sentence in Japan, said the military has “abandoned” her husband and described his treatment as “unimaginable.”
Japanese courts convicted Navy Lt. Ridge Alkonis of negligent driving in October 2021. Earlier in May, he had been involved in a car crash that killed two Japanese citizens: an 85-year-old woman and her 54-year-old son-in-law.
Alkonis said he was suffering an episode of altitude sickness during the crash after a hike on Mt. Fuji. He paid $1.65 million to the victims’ families, but was still handed a years-long sentence condemned as too harsh by U.S. lawmakers and Alkonis’ family.
“He should not be in jail right now,” Brittany Alkonis said in an interview with Fox News, adding, “You dedicate a decade of your life to serving your country, and they have abandoned my husband and our family.”
The Navy officer’s supporters protested outside the White House last week during a visit from Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the Associated Press reported. A senior U.S. official told AP that the Biden administration is working “to find a compassionate resolution that’s consistent with the rule of law.”
Brittany Alkonis said the case is in the hands of National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and the U.S. ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel.
“President Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris have both spoken to the [Japanese] prime minister about this,” she said. “I was able to speak with Rahm Emanuel this week. He took that time out during a very busy week with Japan, and he said that he’s cautiously optimistic that they’ve found a way forward.”
The case was initially being handled by the Defense Department, she said, which was a “big hurdle” because “they were not going to step in.”
“They told me their job is to protect Japan and the alliance, and I cannot assume that what’s in my husband’s best interest is in the Navy’s and the alliance’s best interest,” she added.
Alkonis is still receiving his military pay, Navy Times reported. Congress placed a legal requirement on the Defense Department to pay Alkonis after it initially said his pay and benefits would be cut off at the end of last year.