N.J. congressman Christopher Smith visits jailed Chasid in Bolivia


WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Rep. Christopher Smith, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs human rights subcommittee, visited with a jailed American Chasidic man in Bolivia.

Smith (R-N.J.) accompanied American businessman Jacob Ostreicher this week to a hearing and argued against the Bolivian government’s charges against the New Yorker, a father of five.

“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 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, of the Borough Park section of Brooklyn, belonged to a group of investors that sunk $25 million into growing rice in lush eastern Bolivia.

He is on an extended hunger strike to protest his imprisonment by the Bolivian government.

“He has lost 60 pounds and is increasingly weak," Smith said in the statement. "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.”

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