BOSTON — A lawyer for "Survivor" winner Richard Hatch is threatening to go to court if her client is not released soon from a Massachusetts county jail.
Hatch had been serving the remainder of a prison term for tax evasion on home confinement at his sister's Newport, R.I., home. He was jailed Aug. 18 after granting two TV interviews for which the federal Bureau of Prisons says he didn't have proper permission.
Hatch remained behind bars at the Barnstable County jail in Bourne after a hearing Wednesday with sheriff's deputies, said his Los Angeles-based lawyer, Cynthia Ribas. She said the information gathered at the hearing will be passed on to federal prisons authorities, who will then decide whether Hatch will be moved back to a prison, to a halfway house or returned to home confinement.
Bureau of Prisons spokeswomen Felicia Ponce said she could not confirm where Hatch is being held, but said he remains under the supervision of the department's Philadelphia office.
"It's awful. It's been eight days. He's tormented. It makes no sense," Ribas said. "We'll file something in a real court of law if they don't get him out of there."
Hatch was not allowed to have a lawyer present at Wednesday's hearing with two sheriff's deputies, Ribas said. She and the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union submitted witness statements.
The ACLU claims that Hatch's constitutional free speech rights are being trampled.
"It is appalling that he would actually be sent to jail for engaging in quintessential free speech activity," the ACLU said in a statement.
Hatch granted three television interviews last week — to NBC's "Today" show, NBC affiliate WJAR-TV in Providence, R.I., and the NBC-owned "Access Hollywood." He claimed in each interview that the judge in his case discriminated against him because he is gay, and accused federal prosecutors of misconduct.
A Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman said last week that the department bar prisoners on home confinement from granting media interviews without first getting permission.
Ribas said she received the proper permission for the "Today" interview and thought it extended to all NBC properties. But federal rules consider each media outlet separate.
Hatch was convicted in 2006 of failing to pay taxes on the $1 million prize he got for winning the first season of the CBS reality show. He was given extra prison time for lying on the stand. He has maintained his innocence.
His sentence is scheduled to end Oct. 7.