(CNN)The son of Hotel Rwanda film hero Paul Rusesabagina has spoken of his family’s shock at his father’s arrest on terror-related charges.
Trésor Rusesabagina told CNN his mother and sister spoke to his father last Thursday by phone while Paul Rusesabagina was traveling in Dubai.”That is the last time we talked to him, that is the last time we heard from him and ever since that it has just been silence,” he said, adding that he did not know why his father was in Dubai. CNN has reached out to authorities in the United Arab Emirates, but has not received a response.Paul Rusesabagina gained prominence for saving hundreds of Rwandans during the country’s genocide by sheltering them in the hotel he managed. His story was made into the Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda, starring Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo. Read MoreTrésor Rusesabagina said the accusations against his father are “patently false” and asked US authorities to intervene. The elder Rusesabagina is a US resident, who has lived in Texas with his family. “Having a thought is a crime in some places,” Trésor Rusesabagina said. “Being your own man is a crime in some places.””My father is guilty of having the guts to speak up. This is political, of course it is. These are the games they play,” he said, referring to the Kagame-led government in Rwanda.Terror-related offensesThe Rwanda Investigation Bureau announced on Monday that Paul Rusesabagina had been arrested in connection with terror-related offenses. The 66-year-old is accused of being the “founder, leader and sponsor of violent, armed, extremist terror outfits,” the agency said in a Twitter statement. It added that Rusesabagina was arrested “through international cooperation,”although it did not indicate which country had helped them with the arrest.It said an international warrant had been issued for his arrest, and that he was currently in police custody in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.His supporters, and Rusesabagina himself, have long maintained that he became a target of Paul Kagame’s government after sustained criticism of Kagame’s government and the conduct of the Rwandan Patriotic Front in ending the genocide in 1994.Around 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the genocide, which was led by Hutu extremists. He is the recipient of several human rights awards for his efforts during the genocide, including the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 and the Human Rights Prize by the Lantos Foundation in 2011, among others. Rusesabagina also holds Belgian citizenship, according to a government source in Belgium. Crackdown on oppositionRusesabagina has not lived in Rwanda since 1996, when he survived an assassination attempt. While widely praised for transforming Rwanda in the aftermath of the genocide, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has also faced widespread criticism for human rights abuses and a crackdown on opposition. Rwanda accuses a pastor's daughter of treason and espionage. Her family says the charges are fabricatedOpposition politicians in Rwanda have often found themselves jailed on what they say are trumped-up charges for standing against Kagame in polls. In one of the more widely publicized cases, Diane Rwigara and mother were jailed when the former attempted to run for president in the same election as Kagame in 2017. Diane Rwigara was acquitted of all charges including insurrection and forging of documents in 2018. Victoire Ingabire, the leader of the FDU-Inkingi party, was jailed in 2010 for charges that included collaborating with a terrorist organization, “divisionism,” “minimizing the genocide” and “genocide ideology.” She had returned to the country from the Netherlands to contest in the 2010 presidential elections after years of living abroad but was barred from running, and served eight years of a 15-year prison sentence before receiving a presidential pardon in 2018.