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December 17, 2013 8:37 pm

Ostreicher’s Return Fostered by Mix of Pressure and Diplomacy, Says Former Governor

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Former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson said Jacob Ostreicher's return to U.S. soil was fostered by a mix of public pressure and private diplomacy. Photo: Roger H. Goun from Brentwood, NH, USA via Wikimedia Commons. Bill Richardson, who served as the governor of New Mexico and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said a mixture of public pressure and private diplomacy fostered Monday’s return of Jewish contractor Jacob Ostreicher to American soil after he was held captive for more than two years in Bolivia.

“What needs to happen in successful releases is a combination of public pressure and private diplomacy,” Richardson said on a conference call with reporters Tuesday. “Those combinations in many cases are the roots for success.”

“With Ostreicher there was intensive public pressure by many Jewish organizations, it was very effective,” he said.

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Richardson—who said he doesn’t “have all the circumstances of [Ostreicher’s] escape” from Bolivia—cited a meeting he had with Bolivian President Evo Morales a year ago as an example of the “quiet diplomacy” he and other key officials engaged in on behalf of Ostreicher.

“At one point Jacob said he had a plan and he wanted us to lay off a bit, and I guess that plan of his has resulted in his escape,” Richardson said.

Ostreicher, a 54-year-old Brooklyn native, traveled to Bolivia in December 2010 to oversee rice production and was arrested in June 2011 on suspicion of money laundering and criminal organization. No formal charges were ever been brought against him, but he spent 18 months in prison before being released on bail in December 2012, after which point he had remained in Bolivia on house arrest.

“He’s safe, healthy, very tired but can’t be seen,” Aron Ostreicher, Jacob’s brother, told The Associated Press on Tuesday. Aron said he hasn’t been given the details of his brother’s escape, and that Jacob hasn’t yet spoken to anyone in his family.

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