Judges decline to address plea to free American jailed without charge in Bolivia

A Bolivian appeals panel has refused to immediately release a New York businessman, despite evidence he was fleeced and extorted by prosecutors who have had him jailed for 18 months without charges on suspicion of money laundering.

Instead, the two judges sent the case of Jacob Ostreicher back to the trial judge.

They ordered her to reconsider favorable evidence she previously threw out at the urging of an official who is now under arrest.

Ostreicher's case led to the uncovering of a shakedown ring allegedly run by the No. 1 legal advisor in the Interior Ministry, and including two prosecutors. It came after actor Sean Pean interceded with President Evo Morales.

Penn was at the hearing but did not comment. He has praised Morales' decisiveness in pursuing the ring.