Seven Bolivian government officials were arrested Tuesday after being accused of planning to rob and extort a jailed American.
Jacob Ostreicher, a businessman from Brooklyn, as maintained his innocence, and has long said Bolivian officials targeted him for his successful rice growing venture they seized when he was arrested and accused of money laundering, reported ABC News. He has been in a Bolivian prison for 18 months without an official charge.
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Ostreicher said since shortly after his arrest corrupt Bolivian officials conspired to keep him in jail so they could sell the 18,000 metric tons of rice they confiscated from him, extorting him in exchange for promises to obtain his release, according to the Associated Press. He said the leader of the corrupt group of officials was the director of legal affairs for the Interior Ministry Fernando Rivera, who was arrested Tuesday while on government business.
"It was deliberate, premeditated and the plan was to take everything away from me," Ostreicher told the AP.
Other officials arrested include a former top official in the presidential ministry, a judge who initially ordered Ostreicher freed last year only to reverse the decision, and three officials of DIRCABI, the state agency that manages seized assets, reported Haaretz. Ostreicher is currently in the prison's medical clinic after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and suffering from malnutrition form being on a liquid-only hunger strike for several months.