TOKYO, Japan (CNN) — The case of a Tennessee man jailed in Japan for trying to snatch back his children from his ex-wife is not as clear-cut as it’s been made out to be, authorities here said Wednesday.
The father, Christopher Savoie, apparently became a naturalized Japanese citizen four years ago, listing a permanent address in Tokyo, they said.
And while he and his ex-wife — a Japanese native, Noriko — divorced in Tennessee, the two never annulled their marriage in Japan, officials here said.
Also, the two children at the center of the case hold Japanese passports, they said.
The police revelation adds a new twist to the case — seemingly turning it from an international abduction to a local child custody dispute.
“His chances of getting his children back home to the States, I think, are pretty slim right now,” Jeremy Morley, Savoie’s lawyer in the United States, told CNN’s “AC 360″ on Tuesday night.
“We’re getting this in the hands of Interpol. We’re putting the pressure,” he added. “We want diplomatic pressure. We want the United States government to act strongly.”
Savoie was arrested Monday when he snatched his two children — 8-year-old Isaac and 6-year-old Rebecca — as his ex-wife was walking them to school in Fukuoka, about 686 miles (1,100 km) southwest of the capital, Tokyo.
He headed for the U.S. consulate in that city to try to obtain passports for them, authorities said. But Japanese police, alerted by Savoie’s ex-wife, arrested him.