Jacob Ostreicher, Jewish Man Held in Bolivia, Released to US
Orthodox Jewish American captive Jacob Ostreicher has reportedly landed on US soil this week, after being detained for over 2 years in Bolivia.
The 54 year-old contractor was arrested by Bolivian authorities in 2011 over allegations of money laundering, but was never tried; family members have campaigned tirelessly for his release.
The details of the development remain unclear. An anonymous State Department official stated to the Associated Press Monday that Ostreicher had landed on US soil, but refused to give more information.
Yeshiva World News brings unnamed sources who claim that Ostreicher was not released in any official capacity, but rather arranged the means for his own escape.
The Daily Mail also seems to support the escape theory, pointing out that Bolivian officials were aware of the report but could not confirm the information with immigration authorities as of Monday night. Deputy Interior Minister Jorge Perez said it would have been difficult for Ostreicher to get out, given the media attention surrounding his case.
The New York Times cites an anonymous source who insisted that Ostreicher was aided by "professionals, people who know how to carry out these operations." The source said Ostreicher was smuggled into a neighboring country, then made his way from there to Los Angeles and then to the New York area.
Ostreicher's arrest stemmed from his attempts to help a struggling rice business in the South American country. Several of the rice businesses's employees were involved in money laundering activities, leading to the arrest.
According to USA Today, Bolivian authorities have implicated a judge, the initial prosecutors and lower-level officials in an alleged scheme to shake down Ostreicher and other people deemed to have deep pockets.
He was released from jail last year and put under house arrest, after actor Sean Penn and several U.S. lawmakers directly appealed to leftist President Evo Morales to free him. Despite the breakthrough, it was unclear when - if ever - Ostreicher would be allowed to return to his family.
US news agencies noted that while his family was aware of the escape, they had not yet been able to see the captive.