New York businessman freed after 18 months jailed in Bolivia, given house arrest

A judge in Bolivia has released a New York businessman who has been jailed for 18 months without charge and who helped uncover a shakedown ring led by prosecutors. Jacob Ostreicher will now be under house arrest while the authorities finish investigating his money laundering case.

The 54-year-old American hugged his wife and his lawyers after hearing the judge's ruling.

Judge Eneas Gentilli set bail at the equivalent of $14,400 and ordered Ostreicher to remain under house arrest in the city of Santa Cruz.

The decision came days after American actor Sean Penn made a direct public appeal to Bolivian President Evo Morales to order him freed.