The chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs human rights subcommittee traveled to Bolivia to visit with a jailed American Chasidic Jew.
Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) accompanied American businessman Jacob Ostreicher this week to a hearing where he argued against the Bolivian government’s charges against Ostreicher.
“Justice delayed is justice denied,” Smith said in a statement. “Jacob has been cooperative, patient to the extreme. There is no evidence offered against him. The rule of law must prevail in Bolivia. Innocent people must have a path to justice. He must be released.”
Ostreicher, who was arrested a year ago by Bolivian police after it was alleged that he did business with “people wanted in their countries because of links with drug trafficking and money laundering.” Ostreicher, a father of five from the Borough Park section of Brooklyn, belonged to a group of investors that sunk $25 million into growing rice in lush eastern Bolivia.
Ostreicher is currently on an extended hunger strike to protest his imprisonment by the Bolivian government.
“He has lost 60 pounds and is increasingly weak. He has been subjected to repeated body searches, and jail blackouts. He seemed at the end of his rope, but was happy to see us, to know he wasn’t forgotten. No one should go through what he has had to go through,” Smith said in the statement.