On Thursday 11th August 2022, President Paul Kagame received the United States (US) Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken. The US request to release Rusesabagina was among topics of discussions between the two leaders.
Paul Rusesabagina the former President of MRCD – FLN militia group was handed 25-year jail term last year over terrorism charges. The group is accused of having carried out attacks in the outskirts of Nyungwe National Park where it killed civilians, burnt houses and looted people’s valuables among others.
Speaking to the media, Minister Biruta has said that Rusesabagina was tried and convicted along with 20 other accomplices, under both Rwandan and international laws, for serious crimes against Rwandans.
He revealed that it is unusual for Rwanda to be influenced by pressure and insisted that the country’s stand on the case of Rusesabagina is clear.
“For us, the trial has definitively ended. He was convicted and sentenced like other criminals jailed for different cases handled before courts. This is where we stand,” he said.
On whether Rwanda won’t change its position on the issue and release Rusesabagina over pressure, Minister Biruta explained that the country will abide by laws and stick to the court’s decision where Rusesabagina has to serve his sentence.
Commenting on what can be done to maintain relations in case the request to release Rusesabagina is rejected, US State Secretary Blinken said : “As you know we established what we call the Khashogi Ban, to make clear that any country that engages in repressive actions against those criticizing it, if those persons are in the United States, they may face consequences of those actions. I shared all of these with President Kagame today.”
Khashoggi Ban is a sanction and visa restriction announced by the United States Department of State in memory of the Saudi journalist and political dissenter Jamal Khashoggi.
It "allows the United States Department of State to impose visa restrictions on individuals who, acting on behalf of a foreign government, are believed to have been directly engaged in serious extraterritorial counter-dissident activities.