A man who was sentenced to life in prison for murder and espionage in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been freed and has returned to Norway, Norwegian newspaper Verden Gang reported Wednesday.
Joshua French, who has dual British and Norwegian citizenship, was serving a life sentence after he and a fellow Norwegian, Tjostolv Moland, were convicted of murdering their driver in Congo in 2009 and spying for Norway — charges they both denied. They originally were sentenced to death, but their sentences were commuted.
French and Moland were in Congo researching ideas for an extreme tourism company when they were charged with and found guilty of the murder of Abedi Kasongo. The two men said their car had been ambushed by gunmen and that their driver had been shot.
The men also were charged with espionage because they were carrying military ID cards at the time. The Norwegian government denied that the men were spies.
Moland found dead
In August 2013, Moland was found dead in his prison cell. A Congolese military court found French guilty of strangling Moland, but a Norwegian forensics team assisting French informed the court that Moland had hung himself.
Earlier this year, Congolese Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba told Norway's largest media organization, NRK, that French would be released this year.
French's mother, Kari Hilde French, wrote on her blog that her son's health recently has been "very bad," and that his most recent stint in the hospital had lasted 4½ months.
"Our greatest wish is to get Joshua French home alive before it is too late," she wrote.