Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) has sponsored a bill designed to ban entry into the country by officials of any foreign government complicit in violating the rights of imprisoned Americans.
Nicknamed Jacob’s Law, the bill was written in honor of Jacob Ostreicher, a haredi Orthodox Jews from Brooklyn who has been in prison in Bolivia since June 2011 for allegedly doing business with people in Bolivia who are wanted there for links to drug trafficking and money laundering.
Ostreicher invested millions in a rice-growing venture in eastern Bolivia.
The Justice for Imprisoned Americans Overseas Act, its official name, “is in direct response to several reports about U.S. citizens being held in foreign prisons around the world while their fundamental due process and human rights are being flagrantly violated,” Smith said in a statement to JTA.
“American citizens on travel anywhere around the world need to know that the United States will go to bat for them when they are being denied fundamental human rights or basic due process rights by foreign government officials who abuse the rule of law,” Smith said.
Ostreicher continues to maintain his innocence. Smith visited him in prison in June and also met with Bolivian officials on behalf of the father of five and grandfather of 11.
According to Smith, Ostreicher is imprisoned on the premise of guilty until proven innocent and has not been shown any evidence against him. Also, Ostreicher has had almost $50 million worth of agricultural and financial assets stolen from his business.
Jacob’s Law has five cosponsors, including one Democrat and four Republicans.