How the US, family and Hollywood freed the ‘Hotel Rwanda’ hero

A handout photo shows Paul Rusesabagina, right, with his lawyer Ryan Fayhee at the St. Regis hotel in Doha, Qatar, in March, days after Rusesabagina's release. Here, the former prisoner enjoyed his first glass of wine in several years. [Ryan Fahyee via The New York Times]

Rwanda's leader was in combative form in December when, on a visit to Washington, he was asked about his country's most famous political prisoner, and his personal foe.

No amount of US pressure could "bully" Rwanda, President Paul Kagame said, into releasing Paul Rusesabagina, the hotelier whose heroism during the 1994 genocide inspired the movie "Hotel Rwanda."

"Maybe make an invasion and overrun the country - you can do that," he added tartly, at an event during the Biden administration's US-Africa Summit for leaders from around the continent.

Nevertheless, early the next morning, one of Kagame's top aides met quietly with President Joe Biden's national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, to discuss the terms of a potential release.

It was a key step in a complex, secretive effort to free Rusesabagina, which culminated Wednesday in his return to the...

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