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A Year On, Sean Penn Still Rescues Jacob Ostreicher

Jacob Ostreicher

Jacob Ostreicher, the Orthodox Jewish businessman who suffered brutal imprisonment in Bolivia on trumped up charges, is living a nightmare, but the man who rescued him, Sean Penn, whose paternal grandparents were Jewish, is standing by him as a loyal friend, according to

It was a simple investment in a rice farm, for Ostreicher, but corrupt officials were determined to bleed the venture dry, and imprisoned the Brooklyn native on charges of money laundering—no proof was provided of the alleged crime. A year ago, Sean Penn used his connections in Latin America, and his ingenuity, to get Ostreicher out of prison. The two still will not disclose exactly how it happened.

The 55 year old’s marriage ended as the result of his imprisonment, his finances have run dry, and he is still recovering from the trauma. He was an emaciated 107 pounds when Sean Penn found him on a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment. Penn still checks up on him, sends him clothes, and accompanied him when he met his daughter and 5 grandchildren for the first time since the ordeal. Ostreicher was terrified of meeting them, because his appearance had become so altered by the abuse and deprivation during his experience in a Bolivian prison.

Ostreicher said, “Sean literally went down on his knees, unbuttoned his shirt and flexed his muscles for my grandchildren so they should come closer to me. And that is how they started coming to me.”

There have been moments during the year since his release that Ostreicher has been in tears. “I was literally crying to Sean that I want to go back to Bolivia … Sean sat with me for hours, sometimes sitting with  me all night, rubbing my back.”

When Sean Penn was asked what it was that attracted him to Ostreicher’s case, he answered, “What can I say? He’s likeable.” Ostreicher said, “He is fully responsible, Sean, for saving my life. He is much more than a friend.”


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