The government of Rwanda is accused by the family of Paul Rusesabagina of kidnapping the 66-year-old from Dubai on made up charges, calling the police action a wrongful arrest.
Rusesabagina, a businessman whose role in saving more than 1,000 lives inspired the film Hotel Rwanda is being accused by the government of terrorism-related crimes.
On Monday, Rusesabagina, who is an outspoken critic of President Paul Kagame, was paraded in handcuffs by Rwandan investigators before media in the capital, Kigali.
Rwandan authorities have said Rusesabagina was arrested on what they described as “an international warrant” and is accused of being “the founder, leader, sponsor and member of violent, armed, extremist terror outfits … operating out of various places in the region and abroad.”
Rusesabagina’s adopted daughter, Carine Kanimba, said she last spoke with him before he flew to Dubai last week but she did not know the exact nature of his trip.
Kanimba said his family was informed early on Monday that he was being held in Rwanda but they had not been able to speak to him.
“We’re hoping to secure his release quickly and safely,” she said. “What they’re accusing him of is all made up. There is no evidence to what they’re claiming. We know this is a wrongful arrest.”
Another daughter, Anaise, told BBC World Service radio that her father had last called them on Thursday from Dubai.
“I believe he was kidnapped because he would never go to Rwanda of his own will,” Anaise told the BBC.
Rusesabagina lives in Belgium and the US, where he was honoured by a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honour, by the then president George W Bush in 2005.
He has been an increasingly outspoken critic of Kagame, and has been accused by Rwandan prosecutors of having links to rebel groups in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo which have been blamed by officials for cross-border attacks.
In 2010, Rusesabagina spoke out against the jailing of the opposition leader VictoireIngabire Umuhoza, and four years ago he announced a political campaign against the government, which he called a dictatorship.
A statement from investigators described charges against him including terrorism, arson, kidnap and “murder perpetrated against unarmed, innocent Rwandan civilians on Rwandan territory”. The details of his detention remain unclear.
Rusesabagina has previously denied the government’s claims that he funds Rwandan rebels, and has urged western countries to press the government to respect human rights.
The Rwandan government disputes Rusesabagina’s story about saving people during the genocide, and Ibuka, a Rwandan genocide survivors’ group, has in the past said Rusesabagina, who runs a humanitarian foundation, exaggerated his own role in helping people escape the genocide. (Source: The Guardian)