Rwanda arrests ‘Hotel Rwanda’ hero on terrorism charges

President George W. Bush (R) presents his Presidential Medal of Freedom to Paul Rusesabagina, who sheltered people at a hotel he managed during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, at a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington November 9, 2005. To much of the outside world, Paul Rusesabagina is a hero who saved 1,200 people from genocide in events depicted in the Oscar-nominated film "Hotel Rwanda". But as the genocide's 13th anniversary approaches in his native Rwanda, a bitter row has erupted between Rusesabagina and critics, including President Paul Kagame, who say he is profiting from the victims' misery and rewriting Rwanda's history for his own gain. REUTERS/Jason Reed Close 1 / 1

KIGALI (Reuters) – Rwanda said on Monday it had detained Paul Rusesabagina – the man who was hailed a hero in a Hollywood movie about the country’s 1994 genocide – on terrorism charges and paraded him in front of media in handcuffs.

Rusesabagina was played by Don Cheadle in the Oscar-nominated film ‘Hotel Rwanda’ which told the story of how he used his job as a hotel manager and his connections with the Hutu elite to protect Tutsis fleeing the slaughter.

On Monday, two police officers brought the 66-year-old to the headquarters of Rwanda Investigations Bureau and let media film him and take photographs.

Rusesabagina, who wore a facemask, did not speak. He has in the past said he is the victim of a smear campaign in Rwanda.

“Rusesabagina is suspected of being a founder or a leader or sponsor or member of violent armed extremist terror outfits … operating out of various places in the region and abroad,” the bureau’s spokesman, Thierry Murangira, told journalists.

Paul Rusesabagina: Hotel Rwanda film hero arrested - BBC News

He said Rusesabagina would face several charges including “terrorism, financing terrorism … arson, kidnap and murder.”

He did not say how or where Rusesabagina was arrested.

Rusesabagina moved abroad after the genocide and won worldwide acclaim, receiving the United States’ highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2005.

But back home, he has sparked outrage with warnings of another genocide, this time by Tutsis against Hutus. He has drawn criticism from some genocide survivors and president Paul Kagame who accused him of exploiting the genocide for commercial gain.

In 2010, the prosecutor general told Reuters authorities had evidence Rusesabagina had funded terrorist groups, though no charges were brought.

Authorities have since said he had a role in a string of alleged attacks by National Liberation Front (FLN) rebels in southern Rwanda along the border with Burundi in 2018.

Rusesabagina, whose father was Hutu but mother and wife were Tutsi, has denied exaggerating his role in rescuing Tutsis. He has not publicly responded to the charges of supporting armed groups.

About 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were butchered in 100 days in the central African nation from April 6, 1994.