The mask game in Congo

POLICY: Halle Jørn Hanssen is based on this contribution in his contribution to the new anthology The mask game in Congo - about the campaign for the release of Tjostolv Moland and Joshua French.

Former Secretary General of Norwegian People's Aid, TV correspondent, politician and author.
Published: 2020-03-17

The news image in Norwegian media was the summer of 2009 marked by the coverage of the two Norwegian mercenaries Tjostolv Moland og Joshua french, who had been arrested in Congo for the murder of his driver. In court, Moland was sentenced to death for the driver's murder and French for participating in the murder.

Between May 2009 and November of the same year, this case received about 14 publications in Norwegian media, and for the period May 000 to January 2009 the figure is about 2019. Such coverage of a case in an African country has never occurred before countries. It is unique.

Campaign for release

Family members launched a campaign for a nationwide release that gained a rare strong political influence. The foreign ministers in the period between May 2009 and October 2013, Jonas Gahr Støre and Espen Barth Eide, have stated that no single case occupied their time more than the case with the two convicts in Congo.
The campaign gradually gained an international dimension. For example, then Prime Minister and leader of the Labor Party, Jens Stoltenberg, helped France's President François Hollande address the issue in a meeting with Congo President Joseph Kabila.

Former Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik was also heavily involved in the campaign, helping US former President Jimmy Carter and his The Carter Center committed to release. So did Bondevik's Foreign Minister Knut Vollebæk, who suggested that the government seek an active support commitment from the old colonial power of Belgium. In South Africa, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Bishop Desmond Tutu, joined the team.

Bondevik and others used their international networks, and 18 members of the European Parliament from 12 countries wrote letters to Congo's president asking for release. In the Storting there was a great commitment to the matter - and especially in the Right, KrF and Frp.

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Cameron and Peres are involved

When Erna Solberg became prime minister in October 2013, she and her Foreign Minister Børge Brende stepped up their efforts. The well-known and respected top diplomat Kai Eide became a special envoy with the mission of getting the two released. But Prime Minister Solberg was not satisfied with that. During a visit…

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