Paul Rusabagina, ‘Hotel Rwanda’ hero, to be released from prison: NPR

Feb. Paul Russabagina is seen sitting with some of his co-defendants as he pleaded not guilty to charges of alleged links to an armed group at the Supreme Court in Kigali, Rwanda, 17, 2021. On Friday, the Rwandan government said it had commuted his sentence.

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Simon Wolfhardt/AFP via Getty Images

Feb. Paul Russabagina is seen sitting with some of his co-defendants as he pleaded not guilty to charges of alleged links to an armed group at the Supreme Court in Kigali, Rwanda, 17, 2021. On Friday, the Rwandan government said it had commuted his sentence.

Simon Wolfhardt/AFP via Getty Images

He was celebrated as a hero in the film Rwandan hotels He is about to be released from prison for saving lives during the Rwandan genocide. Rwanda’s government has commuted the sentence against Paul Ruszabagina.

A 68-year-old US citizen and Belgian citizen can return to the US. Pressing for his release.

Russabakhina was a hotel manager during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. He rose to fame when a Hollywood film was released, where he played Dan Seed, about his actions to protect Tutsis who had taken refuge in a hotel from Hutu killing squads. He has the honor of protecting and saving the lives of more than 1,000 people during that period.

Actor Don Cheadle (left) and the real-life inspiration for the film Rwandan hotelsPaul Russabakhina attends the premiere of the film in Los Angeles on December 2, 2004.

Carlo Allegri/Getty Images

He was an outspoken critic of Rwandan President Paul Kagame and was sentenced in 2021 on terrorism charges. His family says he was abducted in 2020 after boarding a flight in Dubai believing it would take him to Burundi.

But the plane landed in Rwanda’s capital Kigali instead. Upon his arrival, he was arrested and interrogated for his ties to the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), a group opposed to Kagame’s rule. Russabakhina acknowledges a leadership role within the group, but denies any connection to the military unit.

A vocal critic of Kagame, Rusesabagina has acknowledged a leadership role in the opposition group Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCT), but has denied responsibility for attacks on Rwanda by its armed wing, the National Liberation Army.

The case has soured Rwanda’s relationship with Washington. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken Raised the case With Kagame on a trip last year.

“This is the result of a shared desire to restore the U.S.-Rwanda relationship,” said Stephanie Niombere, spokeswoman for Rwanda’s President Kagame. He wrote on Twitter.

The Qatari government was also involved in the negotiations for his release. Russabakhina will fly from Kigali to the Qatari capital Doha on Saturday and then travel to the United States, along with 18 other prisoners whose sentences have been commuted.

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Russabakhina was awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom Then-President George W. Bush In 2005. He is expected to return home to his family in Texas.

“The family of Paul Rusabagina is delighted to hear the news of his release,” a family spokesperson said in a statement. “They hope to be reunited with him soon.”

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