According to the White House, Paul Rusesabagina, an outspoken opponent of the Rwandan regime, has arrived in the United States after being released from jail in Kigali.
Paul Rusesabagina rose to notoriety after being featured in the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda as a hero of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. A court sentenced him to 25 years in prison on terrorist charges in 2021, in what supporters dubbed a sham trial.
His release earlier this week was the result of diplomatic pressure from the US administration and discussions facilitated by Qatar. Mr Rusesabagina’s family and friends “had long awaited this day,” according to White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.
Paul Rusesabagina Is Back Home
“I am thankful to people in the Rwandan government with whom we collaborated closely to make this happen,” he stated on Twitter. The former hotel manager was permitted to return to the United States, where he is a permanent resident after his sentence was “commuted by presidential decree,” according to the Rwandan government. He had been a harsh opponent of Rwandan President Paul Kagame in recent years, and in a 2018 video message, Mr Rusesabagina advocated for a change of administration.
According to his followers, he was detained in 2020 when a private plane he thought would carry him to Burundi instead landed in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali. In September 2021, he was found guilty of supporting a rebel organization responsible for violent assaults in Rwanda in 2018 and 2019. The Rwandan genocide lasted 100 days, beginning in April 1994, when Hutu extremists slaughtered 800,000 people, predominantly Tutsi ethnic group members.
Paul Rusesabagina fled Rwanda in 1996, and his narrative went mostly unnoticed for a decade as he worked as a cab driver in Brussels, Belgium. He was included in a 1998 book on the genocide, but it was Don Cheadle’s portrayal of him in the 2004 Hollywood movie that catapulted him to global renown. After seeking refuge, the then-hotel management shielded 1,200 people from the carnage.