BY WILLIAM NEUMAN
LA PAZ, Bolivia — A top Bolivian government minister on Wednesday accused the United States of being behind the escape from house arrest of an American businessman facing money-laundering charges — potentially creating a new strain between the two countries.
The businessman, Jacob Ostreicher, who had spent 18 months in prison and a year under house arrest, apparently sneaked across the border into Peru sometime between Friday morning and Sunday. He flew from Lima to Los Angeles early Monday.
After his arrival, Mr. Ostreicher was in the company of the actor and director Sean Penn, who had visited him in Bolivia and championed his case.
Mr. Ostreicher’s escape was “planned, designed, executed, operationalized by the government of the United States,” Carlos Romero, the minister, told reporters. “We presume,” he added, that the United States Embassy was also involved.
The embassy denied the charges.