New York businessman Jacob Ostreicher, who has been jailed in Bolivia for 18 months, was released on Tuesday on bail at the order of a judge.
The judge, Eneas Gentilli ordered Ostreicher to post a bail equal to $14,400 and to stay in house arrest within the city of Santa Cruz. According to the Associated Press, upon hearing the ruling Ostreicher hugged his wife and the lawyers representing him.
An Orthodox Jew from Brooklyn, Ostreicher, 54, became a partner in a Bolivian rice growing venture and after suspicion was raised that the local manager of the project was stealing money, he went to Bolivia to attend to the business. Shortly after, Ostreicher was arrested and accused of money laundering, but authorities have yet to file formal charges against him. Ostreicher spent the past 18 months in Bolivia, first in a prison notorious for its violence and in recent weeks in a medical facility.
The opening for his release came following the arrest of ten Bolivian officials who were involved with Ostreicher’s case. They were accused with trying to extort Ostreicher and steal his profits. Following the corruption investigation, a Bolivian court ordered a renewed examination of the evidence and on Tuesday a ruling was made granting Ostreicher release on bail until his trial takes place.
“I am thrilled to hear that, after more than 18 harrowing months in prison, my constituent Jacob Ostreicher has finally been freed on bail,” said New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler, following the release of his constituent. New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith was also active on the issue and travelled to Bolivia in attempt to convince authorities to release Ostreicher.
It is still not clear if and when the Bolivian prosecution will file charges against Ostreicher, who will not be allowed back to the United States before the legal proceedings are completed.
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, is the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.