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'Hotel Rwanda' hero Paul Rusesabagina freed from 25-year jail sentence
Kigali: Paul Rusesabagina, whose story served as the basis for the Hollywood blockbuster "Hotel Rwanda," was freed from prison in Rwanda on Friday after President Paul Kagame commuted his sentence, American broadcaster CNN reported.
Rusesabagina notably a vocal opponent of President Paul Kagame gained popularity for harbouring hundreds of Rwandans during the genocide in the hotel he managed. According to two senior officials of US President Joe Biden's administration who briefed media in Washington, DC, Rusesabagina, 68, was transferred from prison to the residence of Qatar's ambassador in the Rwandan capital Kigali late on Friday. He was escorted by a US embassy representative, reported CNN.
In what his family has said was a kidnapping, he was detained by Rwandan authorities in 2020 while he was travelling abroad.
In September 2021, Rusesabagina was convicted guilty of crimes relating to terrorism and given a 25-year prison term.
His sentence was commuted after he wrote to President Kagame in October 2022 to request a pardon.
Rusesabagina was given a 25-year prison sentence in 2021 for participating in a group that carried out "terrorist" assaults, while he vehemently contested the accusations.
Although US officials claimed, no guarantees were made to Kigali beyond the public acknowledgement of their action, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a statement expressing his appreciation for the release.
"Welcome today's release of Paul Rusesabagina. Thankful to know Paul will be rejoining his family soon. Grateful to the Rwandan Government for making the reunion possible. Also, appreciate assistance by Government of Qatar," Blinken tweeted. (ANI)