Congressman Bob Turner (NY-09) gave a harsh critique in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights calling on the U.S. Department of State to heed its own analysis of Bolivia's human rights record and secure the release of imprisoned American Jacob Ostreicher.
"I recently had the opportunity to meet with Mrs. Ostreicher, talk about her family's tragic situation and get a better understanding of what they are going through," said Turner. "The circumstances are dire and I commend Chairman Chris Smith for putting this hearing together so their story can be heard and get the attention it deserves."
Turner went on to describe the conditions Jacob Ostreicher is currently living in.
"Jacob Ostreicher, husband, father and grandfather has been unlawfully imprisoned in Bolivia for nearly a year, without being charged. He lives in a "prison town' where the guards monitor the exterior but, internally there is no supervision -- a condition which puts Jacob in fear for his life daily. He needs medical attention, but has repeatedly been denied it," Turner told the committee.
Turner then cited the State Department's own analysis of Bolivia's subpar human rights record and questioned why, with this knowledge of Bolivia's "harsh prison conditions; allegations of arbitrary arrest and detention; an ineffective, overburdened, and corrupt judiciary," the State Department is not acting beyond murky ill-defined private discussions.
"When will the State Department reunite Jacob with his wife, 5 children and 11 grandchildren?" Turner asked the committee.
"This is not rhetorical," the Congressman continued. "His family deserves a response, and I will work with the Chairman and my colleagues to get the answers they deserve."
Turner pledged to continue working with Chairman Smith and his colleagues to attain answers and end his imprisonment.