Outspoken Rwandan government critic Paul Rusesabagina, whose efforts to save people during the 1994 genocide inspired the Hollywood film “Hotel Rwanda,” has arrived in the United States after being freed from prison, the White House said Wednesday.
“I’m pleased to welcome Paul Rusesabagina back to the United States. We’re glad to have him back on US soil & reunited with his family & friends who’ve long waited for this day to come,” US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan tweeted.
Rusesabagina was released on March 25 after more than 900 days behind bars, after the Kigali government commuted his 25-year sentence on terrorism charges.
His detention had thrown a spotlight on Rwanda’s record of crushing political dissent and free speech under President Paul Kagame.
Rusesabagina was convicted in September 2021 of backing an armed rebel group after a trial that his supporters denounced as a sham.
The 68-year-old, who is also a Belgian citizen with US permanent residency, has been in failing health and his family said he was tortured during his 939 days in detention.
US President Joe Biden had earlier welcomed Rusesabagina’s release, calling it a “happy outcome.”
“Paul’s family is eager to welcome him back to the United States, and I share their joy at today’s good news,” he said in a statement on March 25.
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