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Opponent Paul Rusesabagina, hero who inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda”, arrived in the United States on Wednesday. He was released on Friday after 900 days in prison in Rwanda.
Paul Rusesabagina, fierce opponent of Rwandan President Paul Kagame and hero of the film “Hotel Rwanda”, arrived in the United States after his release on Friday and his passage through Qatar, the White House announced on Wednesday March 29.
“I am delighted to welcome Paul Rusesabagina to the United States. We are happy to have him back on American soil, and reunited with his family and friends who have been waiting for this day for a long time,” said Jake Sullivan, adviser to National Security. “I am grateful to those with whom we have worked closely in the Rwandan government to make this possible,” he added.
After more than 900 days in prison, Paul Rusesabagina was released under an agreement between the US and Rwandan governments with the help of Qatar, where he had arrived on Monday before leaving for the United States.
Fierce opponent of Kagame
Previously manager of a hotel in the Rwandan capital, Paul Rusesagabina saved hundreds of people during the genocide of the Tutsi in 1994. His story was made famous by the film “Hotel Rwanda”, released in 2004. He is subsequently became a fierce opponent of President Paul Kagame, and created his own political party.
Talks on his release began in late 2022 and a breakthrough occurred last week in talks between President Kagame and the Emir of Qatar, a source familiar with the matter said.
Paul Rusesabagina had lived in exile in the United States and Belgium since 1996, before being arrested in Kigali in 2020 in troubled circumstances, when he got off a plane he thought was bound for Burundi.
The opponent was tried from February to July 2021 on nine counts, including that of “terrorism”, for attacks carried out by the FLN, an organization classified as terrorist by Kigali, which had killed nine people in 2018 and 2019. Paul Rusesabagina admitted to having participated in the founding in 2017 of the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), of which the FLN is considered the armed wing, but he has always denied any involvement in the attacks.
In a letter dated October 2022 published Friday by the government, he assured that he would henceforth stay away from political life.