WASHINGTON – The U.S. government expressed concern Thursday about a 53-year-old American who is on hunger strike in a Bolivian prison and demanded that La Paz ensure he receives a fair and “transparent” trial.
Jacob Ostreicher, a 53-year-old flooring contractor from Brooklyn, New York, began the hunger strike last month to protest his continuing incarceration without formal charges.
“We are worried about his physical well-being,” State Department spokesman William Ostick told Efe.
“We recognize that Mr. Ostreicher’s case is subject to the jurisdiction of the Bolivian judicial system,” the official said. “We urge the Bolivian government to make every possible effort to guarantee a fair, transparent and prompt trial for Mr. Ostreicher.”
U.S. consular officials visit Ostreicher whenever he asks and are ready to see him more often if he wishes, Ostick said, adding that the diplomats have been present at every court hearing in the case.
Since Ostreicher’s arrest, on Jan. 3, 2011, U.S. authorities have maintained frequent contact with Bolivian officials “at the highest level” to urge that the American receive due process, the State Department spokesman said.
Ostreicher went to Bolivia in 2008 to start a rice plantation in the eastern province of Santa Cruz, in partnership with several other people.
His Bolivian defense lawyer, Jimmy Montaño, said prosecutors began investigating the U.S. man for alleged money laundering after Ostreicher’s Bolivian agent purchased land from two Brazilian nationals suspected of ties to drug trafficking. EFE