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Freed ‘Hotel Rwanda’ hero Rusesabagina leaves Rwanda, reaches Qatar

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Paul Rusesabagina, who was portrayed as a hero in the film “Hotel Rwanda” about the 1994 genocide, has arrived in Qatar after being released from prison in Rwanda last week, a source with knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday.

Rusesabagina, a US permanent resident, was sentenced in September 2021 to 25 years over his ties to a group opposed to Rwandan President Paul Kagame that has an armed wing.

He was released on Friday after his sentence was commuted following months of negotiations between Washington and Kigali.

Washington’s historically close ties with Rwanda have been strained by Rusesabagina’s detention and by US allegations, denied by Kigali, that Rwanda has sent troops into neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo and supports rebels there.

Rwanda has said that Rusesabagina’s release is the result of a shared desire to reset the US-Rwanda relationship.

The 68-year-old former hotelier landed in Doha on Monday, a source with knowledge of the matter said.

From Doha, he will return to the United States, US officials have said.

“Hotel Rwanda” portrays Rusesabagina’s success in saving more than 1 000 refugees, including his family, during the genocide in 1994 by sheltering them in the besieged hotel that he managed in Kigali.

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