Family of Indigenous Greens candidate Donna Nelson detained in Japan said she was victim of love scam

Native Greens candidate detained in Japan on drug trafficking charges was victim of a love scam by a Nigerian man who promised to marry her, her family alleges

  • Donna Nelson has been detained in Tokyo since January 4
  • She was arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking
  • Her family said she is a victim of a love scam

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The family of an Indigenous Greens candidate and community leader detained in Japan after being charged with drug trafficking alleges she was the victim of an elaborate online love scam by a Nigerian man.

Ballardong Njaki-Njaki woman Donna Nelson – who was the Greens candidate for the Western Australian seat of Pearce in the 2022 federal election – was intercepted by Japanese authorities at Narita Airport near Tokyo in January.

The 56-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking after she was reportedly found with drugs in a bag.

Donna Nelson, a Greens candidate for Western Australia, was arrested in Tokyo on suspicion of drug trafficking after she was reportedly found with drugs in a bag.

Donna Nelson, a Greens candidate for Western Australia, was arrested in Tokyo on suspicion of drug trafficking after she was reportedly found with drugs in a bag.

The family believes Ms Nelson, who is also chairperson of a Western Australian Aboriginal health service, was coerced or tricked into carrying the bag, which she failed to pack as part of her luggage before leaving Australia.

They said Ms. Nelson had been talking to a Nigerian man online for two years before she was arrested.

She has been detained without charge since January 4, when she suddenly stopped replying to messages from family and friends shortly after landing in the Japanese capital.

The family said her final message to her daughters was to stop being “clowns” after bombarding the family group chat with jokes about Japan’s freezing weather.

A tracking app later revealed that she hadn’t taken off from the airport for several hours after landing, raising fears something wasn’t quite right.

Three days later, police and consular officials confirmed to the family that Ms. Nelson had been detained by Japanese authorities on suspicion of drug trafficking.

The family has only been able to contact her through her court-appointed attorney.

Ms. Nelson had traveled to Japan to meet the Nigerian man known as ‘Kelly’ whom she had met two years earlier through an online dating site called AfroIntroductions.

Ms Nelson's family alleges she was the victim of an elaborate online scam by a Nigerian man known as 'Kelly' (Donna Nelson pictured bottom center with family)

Ms Nelson's family alleges she was the victim of an elaborate online scam by a Nigerian man known as 'Kelly' (Donna Nelson pictured bottom center with family)

Ms Nelson’s family alleges she was the victim of an elaborate online scam by a Nigerian man known as ‘Kelly’ (Donna Nelson pictured bottom center with family)

He claimed to be the owner of a high-end fashion brand.

Mrs. Nelson’s daughters have told The Sydney Morning Herald the pair had e-mailed back and forth for months and had discussed a trip to Brazil.

The daughters also said the couple planned to marry in Nigeria, wearing traditional African dress.

They said the man had won Ms Nelson’s trust by sending her an image of a document he claimed was his Japanese residence permit and by offering to fund overseas travel for some of her daughters.

After successfully convincing Ms. Nelson to visit him in Japan, ‘Kelly’ bought business class tickets to fly her to Tokyo via Singapore, Laos and Vietnam.

The family believes Ms. Nelson met an associate of ‘Kelly’ during a three-day stopover in Laos where she came into possession of the bag that led to her arrest at the airport.

Donna Nelson (second from right) was the Greens candidate for the Western Australian seat of Pearce in the 2022 federal election

Donna Nelson (second from right) was the Greens candidate for the Western Australian seat of Pearce in the 2022 federal election

Donna Nelson (second from right) was the Greens candidate for the Western Australian seat of Pearce in the 2022 federal election

Ms Nelson’s daughter, Kristal Hilaire, said one of the hardest things for her was that her mother’s heart would have been ‘broken’ when she realized that ‘this person didn’t love her’.

The daughters said Ms Nelson’s lawyer could have passed on their messages of support and shared photos of her grandchildren.

The family wants Ms. Nelson’s ordeal to be a warning to other women looking for love online.

“We call her mother Teresa because she thinks she can save everyone,” said daughter Ashlee Charles.

“She’s someone who tries to see the good in everyone.”

Under Japanese law, people suspected of committing a crime can be held without charge for up to 23 days and are not allowed to apply for release pending charges.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed their involvement in the case, but was unable to comment further due to privacy concerns.

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