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Monday, December 16, 2013

Jacob Ostreicher, Held Captive in Bolivia, Has Arrived in America

Jacob Ostreicher, an Orthodox Jewish American held captive in Bolivia since June 2011 has made his way to the United States.

A source familiar with efforts to have the businessman released confirmed that an “operation” took place Sunday night that resulted in Ostreicher’s return to his family.

In an email circulated to friends and supporters, his nephew Moshe confirmed the news as well.

“With happiness, we are informing the community of Israel that our dear uncle… has already left the iron curtain in Bolivia, and is now, with G-d’s great mercy, here in America,” Moshe wrote.

Jewish leaders, some of whom have actively campaigned for his release, reacted to the news Monday afternoon.

“With thanks to G-d, I am *thrilled* that Jacob Ostreicher is finally home in America!,” tweeted Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind.

Councilman David Greenfield said “American Jews are celebrating the news that Jacob Ostreicher, who was falsely imprisoned since June 2011 in Bolivia, is now back home in NY.”

Ostreicher was arrested in Santa Cruz, Bolivia while overseeing a rice growing venture he had invested in. He has never been formally charged, and has always maintained his innocence, calling allegations against him of money laundering and criminal organization ”the scam of the century.”

In an interview with The Algemeiner last year Ostreicher’s wife, Miriam Ungar, said that the arrest may have been sparked by the success of her husband’s business enterprise.

“I believe that they [Bolivian government] got wind that this would be a successful business venture. He had 50 million pounds of rice harvested and when they found out… they said ‘what can we do about this?,’” she said at the time.

Last December Ostreicher was released on bail by the Bolivian government, but had been held since that time under house arrest.

A number of prominent officials campaigned for Ostreicher’s release, including New York Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ).

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