Actor Sean Penn is urging sponsors of the 2014 Dakar Rally to drop Bolivia from the famed race to show support for an American businessman imprisoned there.
The Oscar winner has called on the U.S. government to put pressure on Bolivian officials to release New York native Jacob Ostreicher, who was detained in 2011 on money laundering allegations but was never charged.
Penn also wants top motoring firms including Michelin and Honda to exclude Bolivia from the off-road rally next year (14), which he maintains would cost the South American country a fortune in revenue.
Speaking at a hearing into Ostreicher's case in Washington, D.C. on Monday (20May13), he said, "I believe Jacob's life is in danger... It is still possible for the Dakar Rally to exclude Bolivia. The international pressure could very well be precisely what the Bolivian president needs to be able to finally expel the malignant cancer of corruption that is killing both the Bolivian justice system and the thousands of innocent people like Jacob Ostreicher."
Ostreicher spent 18 months in prison and has been kept under house arrest since his release in December (12).