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Polish man sentenced to life in Congo on espionage charges has been released and returned to Europe

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Polish man sentenced to life in Congo on espionage charges has been released and returned to Europe
News

News

Polish man sentenced to life in Congo on espionage charges has been released and returned to Europe

2024-05-28 20:26 Last Updated At:20:30

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Congolese authorities have released a Polish man who was sentenced there to life in prison on espionage charges, Poland's top diplomat said Tuesday.

Mariusz Majewski is back in Europe, Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski said on X. Sikorski posted a brief video of himself apparently talking to Majewski over the phone to welcome him back. He didn't say where exactly Majewski was.

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FILE - Poland's Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski addresses reporters at the Foreign Ministry in Warsaw, Poland, on Feb. 14, 2024. Congolese authorities have released a Polish man who was sentenced there to life in prison on espionage charges, Poland's foreign minister said Tuesday May 28, 2024. Radek Sikorski wrote on social media platform X that Mariusz Majewski was back in Europe. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, File)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Congolese authorities have released a Polish man who was sentenced there to life in prison on espionage charges, Poland's top diplomat said Tuesday.

FILE - Congo's President Felix Tshisekedi speaks during a press conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Tuesday, April 30, 2024. The office of Poland's president says Abdrzej Duda has spoken on the phone with Congolese president in an effort to obtain the release of a Polish traveller sentenced there for life in prison on charges of sabotage. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)

FILE - Congo's President Felix Tshisekedi speaks during a press conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Tuesday, April 30, 2024. The office of Poland's president says Abdrzej Duda has spoken on the phone with Congolese president in an effort to obtain the release of a Polish traveller sentenced there for life in prison on charges of sabotage. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)

FILE - Poland's President Andrzej Duda gives a statement to the media in Warsaw, Poland, on Jan. 10, 2024, after the arrest of two politicians convicted of abuse of power who had taken refuge for hours in the presidential palace. The office of Poland's president says Abdrzej Duda has spoken on the phone with Congolese president in an effort to obtain the release of a Polish traveller sentenced there for life in prison on charges of sabotage. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, File)

FILE - Poland's President Andrzej Duda gives a statement to the media in Warsaw, Poland, on Jan. 10, 2024, after the arrest of two politicians convicted of abuse of power who had taken refuge for hours in the presidential palace. The office of Poland's president says Abdrzej Duda has spoken on the phone with Congolese president in an effort to obtain the release of a Polish traveller sentenced there for life in prison on charges of sabotage. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, File)

Polish man sentenced to life in Congo on espionage charges has been released and returned to Europe

Polish man sentenced to life in Congo on espionage charges has been released and returned to Europe

Polish man sentenced to life in Congo on espionage charges has been released and returned to Europe

Polish man sentenced to life in Congo on espionage charges has been released and returned to Europe

The 52-year-old Majewski was detained in Congo in February and later faced a military court in the Central African nation, accused of spying. Last week, he received a life sentence in prison. No details were released as to where he was held.

The allegations against him said that he had “approached the front line with Mobondo militiamen,” moved along the front line without authorization and “took photos of sensitive and strategic places and secretly observed military activities.”

The Mobondo is a militia group that has been involved in intercommunal violence in southwestern Congo since 2022.

Poland’s Foreign Ministry says that Majewski was innocent. President Andrzej Duda spoke on the phone last week with Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi seeking to obtain Majewski's release.

Poland doesn't have a diplomatic mission in Congo.

Last week, Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Paweł Wroński said without elaborating that Majewski “is not a spy, he is a member of a travelers club” and was just following his “passion in life.” Wroński said his “behavior was the result of a lack of knowledge of local customs.”

Earlier this month, the Congolese army said it had foiled a coup attempt and arrested the perpetrators, including some foreigners. Several U.S. citizens are among those arrested.

FILE - Poland's Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski addresses reporters at the Foreign Ministry in Warsaw, Poland, on Feb. 14, 2024. Congolese authorities have released a Polish man who was sentenced there to life in prison on espionage charges, Poland's foreign minister said Tuesday May 28, 2024. Radek Sikorski wrote on social media platform X that Mariusz Majewski was back in Europe. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, File)

FILE - Poland's Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski addresses reporters at the Foreign Ministry in Warsaw, Poland, on Feb. 14, 2024. Congolese authorities have released a Polish man who was sentenced there to life in prison on espionage charges, Poland's foreign minister said Tuesday May 28, 2024. Radek Sikorski wrote on social media platform X that Mariusz Majewski was back in Europe. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, File)

FILE - Congo's President Felix Tshisekedi speaks during a press conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Tuesday, April 30, 2024. The office of Poland's president says Abdrzej Duda has spoken on the phone with Congolese president in an effort to obtain the release of a Polish traveller sentenced there for life in prison on charges of sabotage. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)

FILE - Congo's President Felix Tshisekedi speaks during a press conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Tuesday, April 30, 2024. The office of Poland's president says Abdrzej Duda has spoken on the phone with Congolese president in an effort to obtain the release of a Polish traveller sentenced there for life in prison on charges of sabotage. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)

FILE - Poland's President Andrzej Duda gives a statement to the media in Warsaw, Poland, on Jan. 10, 2024, after the arrest of two politicians convicted of abuse of power who had taken refuge for hours in the presidential palace. The office of Poland's president says Abdrzej Duda has spoken on the phone with Congolese president in an effort to obtain the release of a Polish traveller sentenced there for life in prison on charges of sabotage. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, File)

FILE - Poland's President Andrzej Duda gives a statement to the media in Warsaw, Poland, on Jan. 10, 2024, after the arrest of two politicians convicted of abuse of power who had taken refuge for hours in the presidential palace. The office of Poland's president says Abdrzej Duda has spoken on the phone with Congolese president in an effort to obtain the release of a Polish traveller sentenced there for life in prison on charges of sabotage. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, File)

Polish man sentenced to life in Congo on espionage charges has been released and returned to Europe

Polish man sentenced to life in Congo on espionage charges has been released and returned to Europe

Polish man sentenced to life in Congo on espionage charges has been released and returned to Europe

Polish man sentenced to life in Congo on espionage charges has been released and returned to Europe

BRUSSELS (AP) — Canada looks on track to meet NATO’s military spending guideline soon, Defense Minister Bill Blair said Friday, notably by boosting investment in the Arctic near its shared border with Russia as the region warms quickly due to climate change.

After Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, NATO allies agreed to halt budget cuts and move toward spending 2% of their gross domestic product on defense within a decade. Canada was barely spending 1% at the time.

Last year, as it became clear that Russia’s war with Ukraine would grind on, they decided that 2% should be a spending minimum. According to NATO figures, Canada was estimated to be spending 1.33% of GDP on its military budget in 2023.

“My defense spending budget will increase by 27% next year over this year,” Blair said at a meeting with his NATO counterparts in Brussels. “We’ve begun the important processes of acquiring the additional capabilities that we require (and) to meet NATO’s requirements of us.”

He said that Canada is investing “quite significantly in the high Arctic” and building new military capabilities like maritime sensors that can detect threats.

“I believe it brings us inevitably to over 2% of defense spending. But I’ve got some work to do in order to be able to articulate that both to my own country and to our allies,” Blair told reporters.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said that he expects around two thirds of the alliance’s 32 member countries to spending 2% of GDP on their defense budgets this year, up from just three countries a decade ago.

A general view of a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine council in defense ministers format at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, June 13, 2024. NATO defense ministers gathered Thursday hoping to agree on a new plan to provide long-term security assistance and military training to Ukraine, after Hungary promised not to veto the scheme as long as it's not forced to take part. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

A general view of a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine council in defense ministers format at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, June 13, 2024. NATO defense ministers gathered Thursday hoping to agree on a new plan to provide long-term security assistance and military training to Ukraine, after Hungary promised not to veto the scheme as long as it's not forced to take part. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Canada's Defense Minister Bill Blair, center, speaks with Estonia's Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur, left, and Finland's Defense Minister Antti Hakkanen during a meeting of the North Atlantic Council in NATO defense ministers format at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Canada's Defense Minister Bill Blair, center, speaks with Estonia's Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur, left, and Finland's Defense Minister Antti Hakkanen during a meeting of the North Atlantic Council in NATO defense ministers format at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

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