Hunger-strike businessman exits Bolivia jail

A Jewish businessman has returned to the US after being detained in Bolivia for more than two years on suspicion of money-laundering.

Jacob Ostreicher, 53, who managed a multi-million pound rice-farming venture, was arrested in Santa Cruz and detained for 18 months without charge in Palmasola prison from June 2011, before being put under house arrest.
Mr Ostreicher, who is Orthodox, is a father of five and grandfather of 11.

This week, his family, who paid a ransom for his release, expressed relief at his return to New York.
His nephew, Moshe, said: “With happiness, we are informing the community of Israel that our dear uncle has left Bolivia, and is now, with God’s great mercy, here in America.”

The case of Mr Ostreicher — who went on hunger strike while in prison and claimed that Bolivian officials “robbed me of close to $50m worth of assets” — attracted widespread media attention when several congressmen and actor Sean Penn campaigned for his release.

Last June, 15 people were arrested by Bolivian authorities on charges of engineering the arrest of Mr Ostreicher as part of an extortion ring.

Last updated: 10:43am, December 19 2013