Paul Rusesabagina — Rwandan human rights human rights activist Paul Rusesabagina was released from a Kigali jail last week.
On Wednesday, he came back to the United States.
The guy who inspired the Don Cheadle-led film Hotel Rwanda, according to a State Department official, has arrived at the United States Army’s Brooke Army Medical Center at Joint Base San Antonio.
An official put out an announcement on Wednesday announcing Paul Rusesabagina’s safe return.
“The US government is focused on ensuring that Mr. Rusesabagina and his family’s well-being are prioritized, and that all assistance available is offered in an appropriate and timely manner,” the official said.
The official also declined to provide any specifics in order to protect the family’s privacy.
Rusesabagina’s daughter, Carine Kanima, also corroborated her father’s homecoming online.
“PAUL RUSESABAGINA IS FREE,” she tweeted, sharing a photo of her father smiling in an airplane.
“Dad has just arrived in San Antonio, Texas.”
“Thank you to EVERYONE who worked soooo hard to bring home,” she added.
“Our Family is finally reunited today.”
Rusesabagina and his release
Paul Rusesabagina was freed from a Rwandan jail on Monday after President Paul Kagame reduced his sentence.
Senior US officials informed reporters on Friday that he had been moved to Kigali and was staying at the residence of a Qatari ambassador.
“He will be spending a limited period of time hosted by the Qataris, likely a couple of days,” said one official.
He would fly to Doha before returning to the United States, they said.
According to a US congressional staffer familiar with Rusesabagina’s situation, he will take part in the Pentagon’s PISA program (Post-Isolation Support Activities).
Several recently released unlawful prisoners from the United States have participated in the program, which has a maximum length of 19 days.
The program is intended to assist individuals in reintegrating into society.
Paul Rusesabagina was freed in October 2022 after writing to President Kagame and requesting a pardon.
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“If I am granted a pardon and released, I understand fully that I will spend the remainder of my days in the United States in quiet reflection,” he wrote.
“I can assure you through this letter that I hold no personal or political ambitions otherwise.”
“I will leave questions regarding Rwandan politics behind me.”
Rusesabagina, a dual Rwandan and Belgian citizen, was scheduled to be released together with 19 other others sentenced with him.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued the following statement upon learning of his release:
“It is a relief to know that Paul is rejoining his family, and the US Government is grateful to the Rwandan Government for making this reunion possible.”
“We also thank the Government of Qatar for their valuable assistance that will enable Paul’s return to the United States.”
The arrest and sentence
When going overseas in 2020, Paul Rusesabagina was seized by Rwandan authorities.
His arrest, according to his relatives, was the result of an abduction.
Rusesabagina was convicted of terrorism-related crimes and sentenced to 25 years in prison in September 2021.
He was suspected of being a member of the terrorist organization MRCD-FLN, which was responsible for two deadly assaults in 2018.
The ruling was a “kangaroo court,” according to the Clooney Foundation for Justice.
According to the organization, the conviction lacked the minimum fairness safeguards required by African and international standards.
A senior US official previously stated that no compromise to the US government would result in Paul Rusesabagina’s release.
Instead, a strategy was devised in collaboration with Rusesabagina, the Rwandan government, and the United States administration.
It took months to reach an agreement that was acceptable to all parties.