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‘Hotel Rwanda’ Hero, Paul Rusesabagina, Is Held on Terrorism Charge


The State Department said it was aware of the arrest and was monitoring the situation.

Officials in Kigali publicly led Mr. Rusesabagina — handcuffed, masked and dressed in a black suit and a red tie — into the offices of the Rwanda Investigation Bureau on Monday to hear the charges against him. Rwandan authorities said he was being held at a police station in Kigali.

Busingye Johnston, the Rwandan minister of justice and attorney general, said in a Twitter post: “Those suspected of killing and wreaking terror on Rwandans, those suspected of masterminding, sponsoring or financing terror against Rwandans, will be brought to justice.”

Mr. Kagame, who has presided over the country since 2000, has been lauded for ushering in progress and stability in Rwanda, which is in central Africa. But rights groups have accused his government of heavy-handedness, and say that executions, disappearances and torture are common.

In 2018, Diane Rwigara, a critic who sought to unseat Mr. Kagame in the 2017 elections, was imprisoned for more than a year, and then acquitted, along with her mother, of charges of forgery and inciting insurrection.

In February, Rwandan singer Kizito Mihigo was found dead in his cell, days after authorities arrested him on charges of trying to cross into Burundi and join terrorist groups. The authorities said he committed suicide, but rights groups called for further investigation.

Human Rights Watch said in April that the government was arbitrarily detaining people in stadiums as it enforced coronavirus restrictions.

“The growing list of human rights defenders, journalists, civic activists, opposition members and critics of Kagame, like Rusesabagina, who have been arrested, or otherwise killed or disappeared, is truly staggering,” said Jeffrey Smith, the executive director of Vanguard Africa, a nonprofit that advocates ethical leadership and democracy on the continent. “What Kagame and Rwanda’s ruling party have effectively done is to make the argument, both in rhetoric and in practice, that criticism, resistance or opposition to their rule amounts to terrorism.”

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