US Man Jailed in Bolivia Released, Under House Arrest

Jacob Ostreicher, accused of money laundering, was held in prison uncharged for over a year.
5:47 | 01/01/13

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Transcript for US Man Jailed in Bolivia Released, Under House Arrest
going to turn to brand-new developments in the story "nightline" has been following for the past year. It's an amazing story involving an american man caught in a worst case scenario far from home. It's been 580 days. 580 days since jacob, an american small businessman, a brooklyn father of five and grandfather of 11, was arrested in bolivia and incarcerated in the prison, one of toughest and strangest prisons in the world. They said he was a money launderer, involved in bolivia's vast drug business. We met him in that prison last may. Have you ever been involved in drugs or money laundering? Absolutely not. Never. So why are you here in this prison? That is my question. For a year and a half, among the murderers and rapists and petty drug criminals locked up in this bizarre and dangerous place, where prisoners run the prison and guards do not enter, jacob languished. No charges, no evidence brought against him. I'm going to fight for the truth and for justice. He told us he was desperate. It's an absolute nightmare. I feel all alone. I am begging the american people to try to help me. Then last month, in part thanks tonig "nightline's" investigation, a stunning revelation. He was released after several officials in his case were arrested and charged with corruption and extortion. The scandal has engulfed bolivia. A key player in this drama, sean penn, who directly appealed to the country's president on jacob's behalf. Jacob and his family are living a nightmare of human abuse. But jacob is not free to go home yet. I feel like I'm in the twilight zone. Under house arrest in bolivia, suffering from parkinson's disease that came on while he was in prison, jacob told us today his life may be in danger. There are 13 people in prison, and those are very high government officials. Things don't look good right now. There's a lot of death threats against me. It is the latest twist in a tale. He invested $200,000, his life savings, as a very junior partner in a rice growing venture in bolivia. It was a good business. 40 million pounds of rice the first year, 200 bolivian employees, and that, he and his defense team told us, was the reason he was targeted. He's got to start paying them money. Steve moore is a retired fbi agent, he advocated for the release of amanda knox, and he's investigated jacob's case for free. Here we are in front of the palace of justice. Is this a place of hope for jacob? No. No, the palace of justice is a misnomer. There should be an atm in the lobby. It should have a "we take credit cards" sign on the front. What's really happening to moore and others on jacob's defense team is an old fashioned Bolivian officials are demanding money. Here's a guy they see coming in from new york who's got probably a lot of liquid cash and they saw an opportunity. Jacob's wife miriam has made the 4,000-mile trip back and forth to bolivia more than a dozen times. She knew what was going on and told us she was scared for her husband. The way things are going there, the justice system, the corruption, I don't even know if I should talk about that there. Doesn't look like they're going to release him any time soon. A big hug and a kiss. When she arrives at the prison, they are for a moment an ordinary american couple again. But the little ones back home, their grandchildren, they don't understand. Dearest grandpa, hello, how are you, I miss you so much, i am scared that something happened to you. Send me back a picture of you so that I shouldn't forget what you look like. She's 10 years old. Jacob's life is terrifying, and he told us he would do anything to get out, except one thing. If they would make me sign a document that I have done something wrong, I will never do that. You will not do that? I will not do that. Jacob lost 40 pounds in prison, and as she left last may, miriam worried her husband was nearing a mental breakdown. When you leave this prison, what does it feel like? Torture. The pain of watching him watch me leave, he stands behind the gate and he sees my anguish and he runs in to make it easier for me to leave, and he's thinking of me and he's the one suffering, and it doesn't get any easier, no matter how long I've been doing this. So now, it looks like jacob has been vindicated. It was all a vicious shakedown. But still the bolivian government keeps him under house arrest. And he wears a bulletproof vest because they fear they can't protect him in their own courthouses. And so his nightmare continues. It's time for them to cut me loose and let me go home to my family. They have done enough damage and now that everybody knows that this had to do with a massive extortion ring, it's time for them to let me go home and let me go back to my country. An amazing saga. We will keep you posted when jacob comes home.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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