Sean Penn and Dennis Rodman: Two Approaches to Celebrity Diplomacy
Sean Penn’s publicist has revealed that Penn helped beleaguered American businessman Jacob Ostreicher escape Bolivia following allegations of corruption against officials in his case. Penn had traveled to Bolivia last year to make appeals for the businessman directly to the Bolivian president, after which Ostreicher was moved from prison to house arrest.
Penn’s celebrity activism contrasts sharply with that of former basketball star Dennis Rodman. Rodman has travelled to North Korea twice in the past, and is preparing to enter the repressive country again on Thursday to train North Korean basketball players. Rodman, however, has made no recent references to the high-profile case of an American held there, Kenneth Bae. Bae operated a tour company that sponsored trips into North Korea, and was accused of Christian missionary activities and other political crimes. Bae, who has now been held for over a year, has suffered severe health problems since being sentenced to 15 years hard labor. When last questioned about Bae, Rodman said they should direct their questions to President Obama.
In the Bolivian case, Ostreicher had stirred controversy in the county with accusations that he was caught in a government shake down due to his resources. He accused the prosecutors and the government of illegally selling 18,000 metric tons of his company’s rice, and of demanding cash to be release from jail. Sean Penn is said to be with Ostreicher now in an undisclosed location. Dennis Rodman is in China, preparing for his visit to his “friend,” leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang.
Photo: Victoria Meredith