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US military is ‘costing lives’: Wife of husband jailed in Japan

(NewsNation) — The U.S. is reportedly negotiating the return of Navy Lt. Ridge Alkonis, who has been sentenced to three years in a Japanese prison.

His wife, Brittany Alkonis, has been speaking out, making sure his case didn’t fall to the wayside.

It’s been months, and Brittany is still asking why the Navy is willing to let one of their own sit in jail. She tells NewsNation “On Balance” host Leland Vittert on Friday that the U.S. military’s “complete and utter disregard for the well-being of Americans” is costing lives.

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“There are people that are suffering. … As they continue to just regard us as disposable, it’s not gonna get any better,” Brittany said.

In May 2021, Ridge was driving with his wife and children when he lost consciousness and control of his car, which drifted and crashed, killing an 85-year-old woman and her son-in-law.

The 34-year-old said he was struck with a case of altitude sickness, which was supported by a neurologist’s diagnosis, but a panel of three Japanese judges said it was unlikely and maintained he fell asleep and should’ve pulled over. Ridge agreed to pay the victims’ families $1.6 million but the panel still decided to sentence him.

Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee is also demanding Japan release Ridge.

Lee’s language on his personal Twitter account toward Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishidia for not returning Alkonis caused speculation that it might have led to his account briefly being locked.

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Twitter reversed the suspension of Lee’s personal account Wednesday afternoon, hours after it was locked for unknown reasons. 

“I didn’t say anything that’s worthy of suspension, so I don’t know,” Lee added about the tweet in question. The Hill reached out to Twitter for comment.

Brittany said she’s seen a shift in Japanese media coverage since Lee “opened the floodgates.”

“It’s been a really hard week … throughout this process I continue to learn things that I can never unlearn,” Brittany said.