KEY POINTS

  • Paul Rusesabagina is a well-known critic of Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame
  • The Rwanda Investigation Bureau said Rusesabagina was suspected to be the founder of various extremist terror groups
  • His family claimed the charges are false

Paul Rusesabagina, the man who sheltered over 1,200 fellow Rwandans during the country's genocide in 1994 and became the inspiration for the Oscar-nominated film "Hotel Rwanda", was arrested on terrorism-related charges Monday.

The 66-year-old was arrested on an international warrant from an unnamed location and was brought back to the country to face charges "of serious crime including terrorism, arson, kidnap and murder," Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) said in a statement Monday.

"Rusesabagina is suspected to be the founder, leader, sponsor and member of violent, armed, extremist terror outfits including the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD) and the Party for Democracy in Rwanda (PDR-Ihumure), operating out of various places in the region and abroad," the statement said.

Rusesabagina, a Hutu, was working as a manager of the Hotel des Mille Collines in the capital, Kigali, during the Rwandan genocide. He used his influence to shelter more than 1,200 Tutsis, fleeing the violence, in the hotel's rooms. Around 800,000 Tutsis and those who tried to protect them, were killed during the 100-day killing spree by Hutus.

The film, "Hotel Rwanda" was inspired by Rusesabagina’s act of kindness. American actor Don Cheadle played Rusesabagina in the 2004 Oscar-nominated movie.

In the recent years, Rusesabagina has become a well-known critic of Rwanda’s long-serving president Paul Kagame. Though Kagame is praised for leading a politically and economically stable country, human rights groups often accuse him of viciously silencing his critics. For years, Kagame’s government has been claiming Rusesabagina is connected to the Rwandan rebels attacking the country from abroad.

Fearing an arrest, Rusesabagina has been living outside the country since 1996. He has a Belgian citizenship and an American green card.

Rusesabagina is currently detained at Remera Police Station and his case file is being processed in accordance with the Rwandan criminal procedure, the RIB said in the statement.

"What they’re accusing him of is all made up," Carine Kanimba, Rusesabagina's daughter told Associated Press. "There is no evidence to what they’re claiming … We know this is a wrongful arrest."

She said the family members were informed of the arrest early Monday but they were not allowed to speak to him. Kanimba added they were worried whether he was being provided with his prescribed hypertension medication.

"We're hoping to secure his release quickly and safely," Kanimba said.

"I believe it is a travesty that a human rights champion like Paul Rusesabagina should be captured, detained and held in the way he is being held," Katrina Lantos Swett, president of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice told Associated Press. "This should raise a lot of deep concern and skepticism on behalf of a lot of people.

Rusesabagina has won several international honors, including the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded by President George W Bush in 2005.

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